British watchmakers light up New York auction

Roger Smith Series 1.

There was a warm glow in the brand new saleroom of Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo for its 2021 New York Watch Auction as collectors turned up in person for its biggest event of the year.

Global attention was also trained on the auction via the internet from all around the world because the first of only 170 Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 watches was going under the hammer.


That watch sold for $6.5 million to an online bidder, the highest price ever paid over the internet for any item in any category for Philipps — including art, cars, jewellery and gems.

The Tiffany Nautilus result contributed to a total of $35.9 million paid at the New York auction, with every single lot selling.

British watchmakers lit up the sale.

A George Daniels tourbillon pocket watch from 1971 sold for $1,663,500.

From his once-apprentice Roger W Smith, a 2018 rare pink gold wristwatch with subsidiary seconds, co-axial escapement, and engine-turned dial, numbered 1, achieved $730,800, a world auction record for the Isle of Man maker.

“It was a pleasure to welcome bidders back into our New York saleroom for such a historic sale – and the first watch auction at Phillips’ new headquarters in 432 Park Avenue,” says Paul Boutros, head of watches at Philipps Americas.

“Across two days, we saw tremendously spirited bidding from nearly 75 countries, leading to game-changing prices for vintage and modern wristwatches alike. A spectacular George Daniels Tourbillon pocket watch – the fourth timepiece ever produced by the independent watch master – achieved $1.7 million, underscoring Daniels’ enduring legacy in the field.

“Bidders also competed fiercely for a Rolex ref. 6241 Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman “John Player Special,” which sold for $1.2 million, and we were delighted to set a new record for any watch by Roger Smith at $730,800.

“It was also an honor to be able to offer the Omega Speedmaster owned and worn by American author Ralph Ellison, following the publication of his masterpiece, Invisible Man. The watch soared past its estimate to $667,800, over sixty times its estimate, being acquired by the Omega Museum.”

Top lots at the Philipps New York Watch Auction

Patek Philippe, Ref. 5711/1A-018

An historic, highly important, and brand-new stainless steel wristwatch with “Tiffany Blue” lacquer dial, date and bracelet, with certificate of origin and presentation box, with proceeds benefitting The Nature Conservancy, 2021.

Sold for $6,503,500.

George Daniels tourbillon pocket watch

A spectacular and historically important George Daniels yellow gold twin barrel one minute tourbillon pocket watch with Earnshaw spring detent chronometer escapement and retrograde hour hand, with handwritten George Daniels letter, presentation box, and double-ended key, handmade for Edward Hornby, 1971.

Sold for $1,663,500.

Rolex Ref. 6241

A highly important, very rare, and exceptional yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with Paul Newman ‘John Player Special’ dial and bracelet, Circa 1969.

Sold for $1,240,000.

Richard Mille, Ref. RM022 AM CA

A very rare and highly attractive limited edition skeletonised carbon dual time tourbillon wristwatch with torque, power reserve and function indicators, with Certificate of Authenticity, and presentation box, 2012.

Sold for $1,179,500.

Rolex, Ref. 6241

A spectacular, very well-preserved, and unprecedented 14K yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with champagne Paul Newman exotic dial, Circa 1968.

Sold for $756,000.

Roger Smith Series 1

An exceptional, important, and extremely rare pink gold wristwatch with subsidiary seconds, co-axial escapement, and engine-turned dial, numbered 1, accompanied by original certificate and presentation box, 2018.

Sold for a world auction record $730,800.

F. P. Journe T30 30 Years Anniversary Tourbillon

F.P. Journe, An extremely rare and beautiful limited edition pink gold tourbillon wristwatch with black mother-of-pearl dial, constant force remontoire, power reserve, dead beat seconds, certificate of authenticity, and presentation box, 2005.

Sold for $718,200.

Rolex Ref. 6239

A previously unknown, extremely rare, and highly important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with blue pulsation dial, tachymeter bezel, with inside caseback stamped 6239, Circa 1967.

Sold for $693,000.

Omega, Ref. 145.012-67 SP

A culturally and historically important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with tachymeter bezel and bracelet, formerly owned by American novelist Ralph W. Ellison, 1968.

Sold for $667,800, a world auction record for the reference. Acquired by the Omega Museum.

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