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Patek Philippe Calibre 89 sold for $5 million

By William George Shuster, Senior Editor
Posted on April 28, 2004
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The Patek Philippe white gold Calibre 89 (the most complicated watch in the world) sold for US$5,002,652 at Antiquorum’s 30th anniversary watch and clock auction April 24 in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the second-highest price ever paid for a watch at auction, and topped pre-sale estimates by 160%.

Sale of the Calibre 89 had generated great interest in the horological and collectors sectors. A yellow gold version sold at auction in 1989 for $3.2 million, then one of the highest prices ever paid for a timepiece.

The Caliber 89, an open-faced astronomical watch with two dials, was made to mark the watch brand’s 150th anniversary. It has 33 complications in five categories of functions: timekeeping, calendar, chronograph, chime, and operational functions. There are only four models—one each in yellow, pink, and white gold, and one in platinum—which were purchased by an unidentified royal family. In recent years, the collection has been broken up.

Other in-demand Patek Philippes included a 1939 model (US$1,669,318), a 1981 timepiece (US$527,652) and a 1937 watch (US$510,985).

Bidders—including private collectors and many museums from around the world—attended the sale at the Hotel Noga Hilton. Bidding was heavy from the floor and included numerous telephone, Internet, and written bids. The total result was US$25,047,894.

Also sold was Antiquorum’s catalogue for its very first sale in October 1974. The catalogue went for US$4,792, a world record. Other world record setters were an English Flying Tourbillion by S Smith & Son, for US$148,485, and two so-called Rolex Pre-Daytonas—one from the 1950s sold for US$87,652 and another produced in the 1960s sold for US$85,985. Also notable was the auction of F.P. Journe’s three Vagabondage wristwatches: The timepieces sold for a total of US$159,432, and the proceeds are being donated to the ICM Institute for research into cerebral and medullary disorders.

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