A rare Patek Philippe Ref. 2499/100 was sold for $499,500 at the Christie’s Important Watches Auction in Dubai on the night of March 19. This is the most expensive watch sold at an auction in the Middle East and the first time that a Ref. 2499/100 has come out to play at any auction in the region. 

Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest watch models, the Ref. 2499 is a highly sought after timepiece by collectors. The 2499 was introduced in 1950 to replace the legendary reference 1518, the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch made in series. 

Only 349 watches of the Ref 2499 were produced.The 2499 has a timeless and hugely influential design language and features a very contemporary-sized case. What makes this Patek reference so important is the fact that only 349 examples were made over a production period of 35 years. This basically means on an average, only nine watches were produced by Patek Philippe annually over the course of the 35-year production period. 

As a result of the rarity, the value of the reference has steadily increased over the years. Watch experts recall only seven Ref. 2499 models ever reaching the auction block in all these years. At the Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction in May last year, an anonymous bidder paid more $2.5 million for an exceedingly rare pink gold Patek Philippe 2499 third series from 1968. Only six watches in the third series were made in pink gold.

What made the reference 2499/100 offered during the Dubai Important Watches auction such a trophy was the fact it was in good overall condition and came with the original certificates and presentation box. Manufactured in 1981, the timepiece is part of the fourth and last series of reference 2499 produced, and can be considered as the last true vintage perpetual calendar chronograph made by Patek Philippe.

This is the first 2499 to be sold at an auction in the region.

Lot 184 in the auction catalogue, this watch belonged to an Italian collector based in Milan and was the last timepiece sold on the night. It was eventually hammered for $410,000 by auctioneer Thomas Perazzi but the buyer’s premium meant the anonymous phone bidder (based in Europe) will have to fork out $499,500 for the pleasure of owning this watch. The previous highest price for a watch sold in the region was also held by a Patek Philippe, a Ref. 5104 that sold for $461,000 in March 2015.

“We are very happy with the price achieved at this sale. The bidder has paid the market price for a rare Ref. 2499 model like this one,” said Perazzi. This was also the biggest sale of vintage watches in the region, a total of $5.4 million was raised through the sale on March 19. The Christie’s sale in October 2016 raised just under $4 million. 

“This is a great result. And it goes to show how big collectors in the region are increasingly understanding the importance of vintage watches,” said Perazzi. “This wasn’t a local sale. There were bidders from all over the world competing for watches in Dubai last night.”

Collectors and industry observers believe that this historic sale is a sign that the market for vintage watches in the region is coming of age. Collectors have in the past been reticent to consign rare timepieces to auctions here because they felt the watches wouldn’t perform as well as it would in more developed markets in Europe, US or Hong Kong.