A Collected Man has set a new world record for an independent’s timepiece with the sale of a Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie watch for $7.63 million (£5 million).
News of the watch was only made public at midday today (Monday) and the sale was confirmed within hours.
The watch was originally made for the Sultan of Brunei and is one of only eight watches ever made as part of Philippe Dufour’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie series.
The sale price of $7.63 million set a new world record for the most expensive independent’s watch ever sold, and becomes one of the 10 most expensive wristwatches ever sold publicly.
It had been placed on consignment with A Collected Man by an anonymous seller.
The company’s founder and CEO Silas Walton tells WATCHPRO that the watch comes from an important private collection and that it last appeared publicly almost ten years ago.
As Mr Silas and WATCHPRO discussed in a Big Interview earlier this year, there has been rapid growth in appreciation for independent watchmaking, particularly at the highest level.
“There is a broader cultural shift happening in the space; exceptional independent watches are increasingly being viewed as art, rather than simply as timepieces, or as an asset class,” Mr Walton suggests.
Asked to explain the world record beating price for the Grande et Petite Sonnerie, he replies: “Dufour is widely seen as the Godfather of the [independent watchmaking] market, so it stands to reason that his pieces are pushing ahead particularly strongly.”
More common Philippe Dufour Simplicity watches — if you can call a production run of 200 common — have been selling for up to $1.5 million at auction, although this was a special anniversary piece; one of only 20.
Prices for regular Simplicity watches are nudging towards $500,000.
“By comparison, this watch is very much in its own league,” Mr Walton argues.
Made by Philippe Dufour’s own hand, this Grande et Petite Sonnerie on sale is one of only eight examples to have been made and the third of the series.
It was completed in 1995 for the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the world’s most prolific watch collectors thanks to his fortune estimated at around $20 to $30 billion.
Every watch from Philippe Dufour is rare.
In A Collected Man profile written last year after interviewing the 72-year-old, he describes how he launched as an independent watchmaker after developing a Grande et Petite Sonnerie minute repeater pocket watch for Audemars Piguet and being given little personal credit for the creation.
He decided he could shrink down the highly complicated movement for a wristwatch and produce it in his own name.
Being the first of only three series created by Philippe Dufour (the Duality and the Simplicity are the other two), the Grande et Petite Sonnerie minute-repeater is a grail watch for collectors.
“This is, quite simply, one of the most important and coveted watches to have hit the market in recent times,” Mr Silas says of the third of eight watches in the series that he has for sale.
“The Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie represents an absolute pinnacle of craftsmanship, and is the result of years of painstaking work and unrelenting vision from one of the masters of modern watchmaking,” he adds.