A new sale record was created at the recently concluded flagship event at Sotheby’s spring watch auction in Hong Kong billed as the “Nevadian Collector.” The sale made up of 38 Patek Philippe watches and one lot of vintage Gay Freres bracelets, all owned by a single collector, was headlined by the only known ref. 2499 in pink gold with a dial signed “Gobbi Milano”. The 37.5mm watch from 1957 had a pre-sale estimate between $3 million to $6 million. However, four telephone bidders competed aggressively for the watch, quickly elevating the hammer price to HK$50 million, which comes to around HK$60 million ($7.68M USD) when the buyer’s premium is included. This immediately made it the most expensive Ref. 2499, shattering the previous record by a considerable margin. It alone accounted for a third of the cumulative value of the sale.
What’s interesting is that the historically important timepiece previously held the same record back in 2007, when it sold at Sotheby’s Geneva for CHF 2.7 million. It held on to the record for more than a decade before being overtaken in 2018 by a yellow gold Asprey-signed Ref. 2499 for approximately $4 million. The record-setting Patek Philippe was one of four Ref. 2499 examples that sold at the auction, all belonging to a mysterious, nameless individual of American origin who started collecting rare vintage watches 30 years ago after selling his media business. It is believed that at one point in time, the California-based collection had more than 400 historically important watches. Now in his eighties, the gentleman began selling his collection through Sotheby’s about four years ago, setting several records along the way.