The Christie’s Watches Online: Dubai Edit auction that concluded over the weekend totalled $5,592,000 (AED20,327,501) in sales. Here are five key takeaways from the biggest online sale yet from the auction house.
1. MILITARY PROVENANCE TRUMPS ALL
Steel sports watches made for defence forces or police units continue to be in demand among collectors. The top performing lot at this auction was was a Rolex Ref. 5513/17 MilSub from 1977 made for the British Navy that sold for a whopping for $400,000 (AED1,454,042) against an estimate of $140,000-240,000.
A Rolex Sea-Dweller "Polipetto" from 2008 made specifically for the dive unit (Sommozzatori) of the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) sold for $118,750 against a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-90,000. The nickname "Polipetto" is a reference to the Octopus emblem of the Sommozzatori on the dial.
A Rolex Submariner Ref. 1110LN from 2013 commissioned by Britain’s Special Reconnaissance Force Regiment hammered for $50,000 when its pre-sale estimate was between $20,000-40,000.
2. PATEK PHILLIPE AND ROLEX CONTINUE TO DOMINATE
If it was not a vintage Rolex Submariner pulling in the big bucks, it was a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph. A rare Ref. 5271P-011 in platinum with a diamond-set case, a baguette-cut diamond-set at 12 o’clock on the dial and on the platinum deployant clasp sold for $200,000 (AED727,021).
A highly-skeletonized yellow gold Patek Philippe pocket watch Ref. 912 bedecked with jewels - 177 diamonds (worth 1.71 carat), 12 rubies (0.15 ct.) and 55 pearls – fetched $118,750 (AED431,669), more than two times its high estimate ($35,000-50,000).
3. ONLINE AUCTIONS ARE GETTING NEW AUDIENCES
According to the auction house, 45 percent of the registrants in the auction were new to Christie’s. In total, the auction saw bidders from 38 countries, across five continents. It is worth mentioning here that this was the largest online auction every hosted by the auction house. About 160 timepieces were up for grabs during the two-week long period.
4. MIDDLE EAST COLLECTORS RISE TO THE OCCASION
Collectors from the Middle East acquired half of the top 10 lots sold at the auction. This year’s catalog had an exhaustive collection of watches with connection to Gulf royalty or Middle Eastern governments.
A yellow gold Rolex Ref. 18238 Day-Date with a dial bearing the logo of the UAE armed forces sold for $21,500, above the pre-sale estimate of $12,000-18,000. A white gold Rolex Ref. 1803 with the Khanjar insignia (the national symbol of Oman) hammered for $81,250 when the pre-sale estimate was $50,000-80,000.
5. STELLA-R PERFORMANCE
The growing popularity of Rolex “Stella dials” was evident by the fact that two examples sold for more than $100,000 at this auction. A yellow gold Day Ref. 1802 from 1970 with a yellow lacquer Stella dial with diamond hour markers sold for a whopping $237,500 against an estimate of $120,000-200,000. A Ref. 1803 in yellow gold with a baby green lacquer Stella dial with diamond-set hour markers from 1978 sold for $125,000.
ALSO READ: A brief history of Rolex Stella Dials