A Patek Philippe Watch Raises $6.2 Million for Charity

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A Patek Philippe Watch Raises $6.2 Million for Charity

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GENEVA — “Last chance — and sold for 6 million 200 thousand,” the auctioneer Rahul Kadakia said as he brought down his hammer on lot 12, a one-of-a-kind Patek Philippe wristwatch.

It was the highest bid Saturday at Only Watch, the auction that has become one of the watch industry’s most glittering, high-profile events, with Prince Albert II of Monaco, wealthy collectors and executives from top brands among the approximately 300 guests who packed Christie’s salesroom at the Hôtel des Bergues here. The icy drizzle outside had deterred few from attending the charity sale, held every two years to benefit the fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, one variation of the degenerative muscular disease.

The price didn’t break any records but was high enough to stoke excitement. And once the 50 lots were sold, for a total of $10.8 million, it was clear the Patek, as always, played a big role in the charitable contribution.

“Where else can you raise $10 million in less than two hours with all proceeds actually going to the charity?” said Luc Pettavino, the founder of the event, which in its seven sales has raised about $38 million for the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies. The operation is a lean one, he said..

(Unlike most auctions, Only Watch features unique timepieces donated by their makers that are auctioned without commissions or reserve prices.)

Mr. Pettavino is president of the Monaco-based charity, which he helped to found in 2001 after learning that his son, Paul, had the disease. A year ago, on the eve of his 21st birthday, Paul Pettavino died from its effects. “You are here with us, one way or another,” Mr. Pettavino said from the podium as the sale ended.

Prince Albert, who has been the event’s patron since its start in 2005, held a party during the Monaco Yacht Show in September, a royal send-off for a 10-city promotional tour of the donated timepieces. In Geneva, he attended a presale lunch, obliged the paparazzi and observed the sale from the front row until, when lot 50 was called, Mr. Kadakia invited him to the podium.

“This is your last chance to have Prince Albert sell you a watch,” Mr. Kadakia said, as the audience roared. (He sold the Tempus Terrae GMT by Andersen Genève for $55,000.)

Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, also was present, and watched the bidding for the Ref. 5208T produced exclusively for Only Watch in titanium, a metal rarely used by the brand. The watch, which had a deep blue dial, featured a minute repeater — which Mr. Stern has said is his favorite complication — a monopusher chronograph and an instantaneous perpetual calendar.

“We just finished the piece a few days ago,” Mr. Stern said. “The prototype that went on tour was handled by too many people and will be destroyed. We will deliver a new piece to the buyer that will be ‘untouched.’ At 6 million, it is only normal.”

The winning bidder — who, like others in the sale, was not identified — also received a visit to the company’s workshops in Plan-les-Ouates, Switzerland, and a meal with Mr. Stern.

Traditionally, one-of-a-kind Pateks do exceptionally well at auction. At the 2015 edition of Only Watch, another classic repeater by Patek Philippe in stainless steel sold for $7.3 million, 10 times its presale estimate. For a time it was the most expensive wristwatch ever sold, a distinction now held by the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona that sold last month for $17.8 million.

In recent years several factors have increased the auction’s tally — and heightened its profile. In 2015 the event was moved to Geneva from Monaco, and it now has a prime spot as the first of the several watch and jewelry auctions traditionally held in the city during November. This year, in addition, it was just two days after the award ceremony of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, an annual watchmaking competition. (Among the chief executives in the crowd were Ricardo Guadalupe of Hublot and Pierre Jacques of De Bethune, as well as the independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen and Laurent Ferrier, the founder of his own brand.)

For watch collectors, like five or six members of the Dubai Watch Club in attendance this year, the event is known as a source for some of the rarest watches.

François-Paul Journe said he spent a year developing the caliber for the Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante that he donated, but he said it will never be used again. Bidding started at $50,000 and rose in uneven, applause-punctuated leaps until the watch was sold for $1.15 million, about five times its presale estimate of $208,000.

“I was prepared to spend $700,000 to buy back the watch for my own collection,” Mr. Journe said. “After $1 million, I had to let it go.”

Several other donations made noticeable contributions to the excitement. The $351,750 hammer price of the Tudor Black Bay Bronze One would have been mind-spinning — especially as it’s a watch that retails for less than $5,000 — but another Tudor Heritage Black Bay One sold at the 2015 Only Watch auction for $375,000. (Both the Journe and Tudor watches were bought by Claude Sfeir, the Lebanese collector.)

Audemars Piguet, a new donor at the event, had its Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in black ceramic with a blue Tapisserie dial sell for $803,000.

Historically women’s watches have not done particularly well at Only Watch — while there are some serious female collectors, most still are men — but Chanel’s J12-XS sold for slightly more than $55,000.

“In a world of mostly men’s watches, Chanel remains a women’s label,” said Nicolas Beau, global head of watches and fine jewelry for Chanel, “and so this year, we decided again to go with an exceptional women’s watch.” The timepiece, which had a diamond-set case and a cuff-style bracelet beaded by the legendary Maison Lesage in Paris, came with an invitation to Chanel’s fall 2018 runway show during Paris Fashion Week in the spring.

Other brands also added bonuses to their donations — from a meet-and-greet with Usain Bolt (from Hublot) to a spin in a Formula One car (Bell & Ross).

And some collaborated on watches. The avant-garde Urwerk, for example, paired with Mr. Ferrier’s brand to produce the Arpal One, which sold for $100,000. And Agenhor, the Geneva-based movement maker, worked with students at the Geneva School of Art and Design to produce a case for its first AgenGraph movement. The result, a desktop clock called Carpe Diem, fetched $30,000.

“We do not make watches,” said Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, founder of Agenhor, “but the story of the Pettavino family touched us so deeply that we wanted to do something.”

John Reardon, international head of Christie’s watch department, which took over from Phillips to conduct the sale this year, said Only Watch’s greatest feat has been its success in uniting the watch industry.

“Only Watch is not about one person, one auction house, one brand or even one industry,” he said. “It is bigger than all of us, and together we celebrate doing something good and positive.”

By | 2017-11-17T09:45:01+00:00 November 17th, 2017|Comments Off on A Patek Philippe Watch Raises $6.2 Million for Charity