World's Most Expensive Watches Sold at Auction
The most expensive watch at auction is worth 900 Rolex Panda.
Have you ever asked yourself, “what are the most expensive watches in the world?” and “How did the most expensive watches in the world become so expensive?” Here is your answer.
There are numerous ways to determine the value of a watch. It ranges from the complexity of the movement to the weight of the diamonds on the dial. However, in my opinion, the world’s most expensive watches are worth more than the sum of their tiny rarefied parts.
Instead, excellent watches achieve their status through a mysterious combination of (among other things) history, celebrity, rarity, and, of course, hype. Speaking of hype, remember the Patek Philippe Nautilus Tiffany Dial? The first piece was sold at an auction for $6.5 million, 120 times more than its retail price of $52,000. Since then, the turquoise color has become more and more popular in the watch industry. Interesting, huh?
So, to answer the question “what are the most expensive watches sold at auction,” here is a list of the top three watches in ascending order of the price they fetched at auction. Keep reading to find them out!
3. World's Most Expensive Watches at Auction - Patek Philippe Stainless Steel 1518
Patek Philippe Stainless Steel 1518 is the third most expensive wristwatch sold at auctionSource: Phillips
Let’s start with the third most expensive wristwatch ever to sell at auction. Back then in 2016, a rare stainless steel Patek Philippe 1518 was sold for $11.1 million, making it the most expensive wristwatch ever to be sold at auction.
The Patek Philippe Reference 1518 was created in 1943 in the midst of World War II and features a 35mm diameter case, a moon phase indicator, Arabic hour markers, and a tachymeter scale.
What makes the model special, is because it is the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph produced in series, with only 281 examples ever produced.
Furthermore, the majority were made of yellow gold, with approximately 44 pieces made of pink gold and only four known to exist in stainless steel.
2. World's Most Expensive Watches at Auction - Rolex Daytona Paul Newman 6239
Rolex Daytona Paul Newman Dial 6239 is the second most expensive wristwatch sold at auctionSource: Phillips
The original Paul Newman Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6239, which Paul Newman himself wore religiously for years, was sold for a record price of $17.8 million at the prestigious New York auction house.
After his 1965 accident, Newman was gifted his Rolex Daytona 6239 by his wife, Joanne Woodward, with the words ‘Drive Carefully Me’ engraved on the back. I mean he wasn’t only an actor but also a racecar driver.
Paul Newman wears his Rolex Daytona 6239Source: Getty Images
The actor was later photographed wearing the watch frequently, including at high-profile races.
According to legend, Newman’s personal Daytona had eluded collectors since the 1980s, when he gave it to James Cox, his daughter Nell Newman’s ex-boyfriend. He kept it until he sold it at Phillips Auction House in 2017, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Nell Newman Foundation.
Not every Rolex 6329 featured the exotic dial known as the ‘Paul Newman dial.’ The dial sported a “Tri-Color” white dial with contrasting black chronograph registers and red accents. The model featured an exotic black dial with white registers and a red minute track around the perimeter.
Furthermore, the DAYTONA logo above 6 o’clock on both dial variants is red, and the stationary metal bezel is engraved with the tachymeter scale.
It is estimated that Rolex only produced 2,000 to 3,000 exotic Daytona dials, and only a fraction of those have survived to this day, adding to its cult status and insane secondary market price premium.
Hollywood actor, Sylvester Stallone, was seen wearing Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ dial 6241 during the Italian Grand Prix F1 in September 2022.
1. The Most Expensive Watch At Auction – Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime 6300A-01
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime 6300A-01Source: Christie
And finally, we come to the winner of the most expensive watch at auction. Over the weekend in November 2019, history was made in a record-breaking Geneva watch auction hosted by Christie’s.
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime 6300A-01 broke the world record for the most expensive watch with a hammer price of $31.2 million, bought by a private telephone bidder. It is by far the highest price ever paid for a wristwatch, and from what I understand, all proceeds will be donated to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research.
This timepiece definitely dethroned the famous cool Rolex Daytona Paul Newman Dial 6239, which sold for $17.8 million in 2017.
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime 6300A is the most complicated wristwatch ever made. It features four spring barrels driving 20 complications and has a reversible case with two different dials in rose gold and black. Moreover, It has five chiming modes, two of which are world firsts: an acoustic alarm that sounds at the preset time and a date repeater that sounds the date on demand.
Case diameter: 47.7 mm
Height: 16.07 mm
Dial color (time side): salmon opaline
Dial color (calendar side): black opaline
Movement: Calibre 300 GS
Strap: Shiny black alligator leather with square scales
Functions: Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie, minute repeater. Strikework mode display (Silence/Grande Sonnerie/Petite Sonnerie). Alarm with time strike. Date repeater. Instantaneous perpetual calendar. Movement power-reserve indicator. Strikework power-reserve indicator. Strikework isolator indicator. Second time zone. Second time zone day/night indicator. Display of day and month. Date display (on both dials). Leap year cycle. Four-digit year display. 24-hour and minute sub-dial. Crown position indicator. Moon phases.