Patek Philippe’s crown slips at Geneva Watch Auction XIV as Philippe Dufour and F.P. Journe dominate top ten sales

Aurel Bacs selling lot 14 in the Geneva Watch Auction XIV.

Looking back, it is now clear how much the sale of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona in 2017 for a world record $17.8 million triggered a flood of demand from collectors and investors for watches with provenance and scarcity.

Despite the economic shock of the pandemic — or perhaps because of it — prices have soared on the secondary market, particularly at auction.


But while the 2017 world record price was mostly about provenance, the market today is more about the maker, particularly a living watchmaker who can now be considered a fine artist in the same pantheon as modernists such as Pablo Picasso, Jeff Koons or Damien Hurst.

The Geneva XIV watch auction held by Phillips this weekend was an illustration of the modern movement where Philippe Dufour and Francois Journe were feted by collectors and set record prices for independent watchmakers.

Rolex did not have a single watch in the top ten most expensive lots sold, and Patek Philippe grabbed only three of the highest prices paid, with some of the lots selling for below their top estimates.

Living artists are trouncing faceless big brands with centuries of history.

Philippe Dufour’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie #1 commanded the highest price at $5.2 million.

F.P. Journe came second for a Chronomètre à résonance Souscription #1, which sold for $4.3 million.

A Philippe Dufour Duality N°8 came third in the Phillips sale with a price of $3.7 million.

Auction king Patek Philippe trailed in fourth, hammering for $3.5 million for a Ref. 2499 first series in yellow gold and not even beating its top estimate.

“What we at the Phillips watch department and the watch collecting community around the world have always stated was today confirmed: watches are collectibles at the same level as impressionist, modern and contemporary art, fine motorcars and jewels, to name a few. Today’s auction was a tipping point in the history of watch collecting and in the coming years the world will refer to a before and after Geneva Watch Auction: XIV,” says Alexandre Ghotbi, Phillips head of watches, Continental Europe and Middle East.

The auction generated total sales of $74.5 Million, almost double the world record achieved for a single watch sale and more than double the Only Watch charity auction in Geneva, which sold 53 timepieces for CHF 30 million.

A total of 12 watches hammered for more than $1 million at the Phillips sale.

Top 10 watches at the Phillips Geneva XIV Watch Auction

PHILIPPE DUFOUR, Grande et Petite Sonnerie #1.

A unique and historically important two-train minute repeating grande and petite sonnerie wristwatch with hinged case in yellow gold and enamel dial bearing movement number 1

Word record for a Philippe Dufour watch ever at auction and a watch by any Independent Watchmaker.

Estimate CHF 1,000,000 – 2,000,000.

Sold for CHF 4,749,000.

F.P. JOURNE Chronomètre à résonance Souscription n°1.

An extremely rare and the first of its kind platinum and pink gold dual time wristwatch with resonating escapements, number 1 of a 20 pieces subscription series.

Estimate CHF 200,000 – 400,000.

Sold for a world record CHF 3,902,000.


An exceedingly rare and important pink gold wristwatch with double escapement, certificate and fitted presentation box. One of three made.

Estimate CHF 800,000 – 1,600,000.

Sold for world record for the model CHF 3,660,000.

PATEK PHILIPPE Ref. 2499 first series.

An extremely important, fresh-to-the-market yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with retailer-signed bracelet, retailed by Serpico y Laino.

Estimate CHF 2,000,000 – 4,000,000.

Sold for CHF 3,539,000.

F.P. JOURNE, Tourbillon Souverain à remontoir d’égalité Souscription  n°1.

A historically important and extremely rare platinum tourbillon wristwatch with remontoir d’égalité, number 1 of a 20 pieces subscription series.

Estimate CHF 300,000 – 600,000.

Sold for a world record for the model CHF 3,539,000.

OMEGA, Ref. 2915-1 “Tropical Broad Arrow”.

An early and important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with Broad Arrow hands and chocolate brown “tropical” dial.

Estimate CHF 80,000 – 120,000.

Sold for a world record for any Omega at auction CHF 3,115,500.

PATEK PHILIPPE, Ref. 2497 “The Exceptional White”.

An exceedingly rare and historically important white gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with center seconds, moonphases and original bracelet.

Estimate CHF 1,500,000 – 3,000,000.

Sold for CHF 2,813,000.

PHILIPPE DUFOUR, Grande et Petite Sonnerie #1.

A unique and historically important minute repeating, grande and petite sonnerie pocket watch in yellow gold.

Estimate CHF 400,000 – 800,000.

Sold for CHF 2,329,000.


TitaCarb tourbillon wristwatch with guarantee and presentation box, number 21 of a 50-piece limited edition.

Estimate CHF 800,000 – 1,600,000.

Sold for CHF 1,724,000.

PATEK PHILIPPE Ref. 2499 second series.

An extremely rare and well-preserved yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moonphase.

Estimate CHF 800,000 – 1,600,000.

Sold for CHF 1,482,000.

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