It is not unknown for watchmakers to buy their own timepieces at auction — Rolex is strongly rumoured to have bought the Paul Newman Daytona that sold for a record $17.8 million back in 2017 — and there are good reasons for them to do so.
A brand might have its own museum, with a budget to buy important vintage pieces that contribute to its history.
There may be a philanthropic reason, so buying your own watches at a charity auction is an act of pure generosity.
It can also be great marketing. Auction prices are carefully studied by collectors looking to buy watches today that will hold or increase their value in the future. Eye-catching auction prices build desire for watches currently in production, as we see for so many models from Rolex, Patek Philippe and others today.
The identity of the buyer for a Tourbillon Openworked Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet at this week’s Only Watch charity auction has not been revealed. But it would certainly have made sense for AP to have bought its own watch for all three of the reasons mentioned above.
It matters not a jot what the anonymous buyer’s motives were when the hammer came down with a CHF 1 million ($1m) value attached to the watch. What is important that the money will go to fund research into Muscular Dystrophy, the mission driving the Only Watch organisation.
“We are proud to have contributed to this charity auction once more and help advance scientific and medical research,” says François-Henry Bennahmias, Audemars Piguet chief executive officer of Audemars Piguet.
The unique version of the Code 11.59 was made in a two-tone 41mm case combining white and pink 18ct gold housing a hand-wound tourbillon open-worked calibre 2948 movement.