By Taylor Classen, Luxury Watch Specialist & Consultant


2022 Watch Market Report – August 2022

The sale seasons for significant watches typically occurs around May/June and November/December, with sales occurring at major auction houses in Geneva, New York and Hong Kong. The first half of 2022 had a strong start with large sales, and many important vintage Patek Philippe watches being sold at auction. The most expensive of these was a possibly unique reference 2499 in pink gold, which sold for $7,676,923 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The auctions this year have shown that vintage Patek Philippe is still strong, while top condition vintage Rolexes are coveted as well. Watches produced by independent watch makers such as: F.P. Journe, De Bethune, George Daniels, Roger Smith, and MB&F. have experienced strong increases in value. In addition, vintage Cartier’s continue to achieve strong results.   Modern sports watches have started to soften after seeing record growth over the past few years. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Christie’s saw unparalleled results for timepieces with 128 vintage Patek Philippe watches from the Kairos collection being 100% sold in New York, Hong Kong, and Geneva at 183% above the low estimated value ($22.2 million).
  • Phillips experienced a 182% increase in its first half sales of watches at $127.2 million for 2022 compared to its half sales of $69.2 million in 2021.
  • Vintage watches produced by Cartier and watches produced by independent watch makers have continued to see a rise in value, due to an increase in interest from collectors.

TOP FIVE SOLD WATCHES IN 2022 TO DATE

PATEK PHILIPPE
A Possibly Unique Reference 2499, 2nd Series Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in Pink Gold
The Nevadian Collector
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong
April 25th, 2022
Lot 2018
SOLD: $7,676,923
PATEK PHILIPPE
A Pink Gold Reference 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph with Moonphase Circa, 1948
The Nevadian Collector
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong
April 25, 2022
Lot 2009

SOLD: $2,899,344
PATEK PHILIPPE
An Outstanding Pink Gold Reference 1518 Pink Dial Perpetual Calendar with Chronograph
The Geneva Watch Auction: XV
Phillip’s, Geneva 
May 7-8, 2022
Lot 213

SOLD: $3,404,145
PATEK PHILIPPE
An Extremely Rare Reference 5002R Sky Moon Tourbillion in Pink Gold
The Champion Collection Part III: The Artistry of Complications 
Christie’s, Hong Kong 
May 24, 2022
Lot 2273

SOLD: $3,114,629
PATEK PHILIPPE
The Only Known Luminous Reference 2499J, 2nd Serries Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in Yellow Gold
The Nevadian Collector
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong
April 25, 2022
Lot 2021

SOLD: $3,404,145

VINTAGE & RARE ROLEX

Rolex has always been considered one of the cornerstones of the vintage watch market, as top condition vintage Rolexes have demonstrated a strong increase in value over the past two decades. 

The Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 Pulsation Dial formerly owned by Eric Clapton is a perfect example of how a top condition vintage Rolex can increase in value, when it achieved a sale of $1,743,998 at Phillip’s Geneva in May 2022. This extremely rare timepiece was first sold at Christie’s in June 2003 for $41,825 before being sold again at Antiquorum Geneva in October 2007 for $292,360. 

However, other rare top condition vintage Rolex models achieved high sale results at auction such as the Rolex Day-Date Ref. 18008 which features a rainbow sapphire set bezel and diamond case, which achieved a 252% premium above its conservative low estimate of $100,000 at Sotheby’s New York. In addition, a rare Rolex Daytona Ref. 116509H that was produced for the Netherlands Men’s Soccer Team after the 2010 World Cup achieved a sale price of $443,900 which was 443.90% above its high estimate of $100,000. 

Overall vintage Rolexes remain strong but have not seen the kind of exponential growth that modern Rolexes have experienced over the past five years. However, as modern Rolexes start to soften, vintage Rolexes remain strong and top condition vintage models show no signs of softening anytime soon. 

ROLEX
A Fresh to Market Rolex Daytona Lemon Paul Newman Dial in 18kt yellow gold. Ref. 6264; inside caseback stamped 6241

The New York Watch Auction: SIX
Phillip’s, New York 
June 11-12, 2022
Lot 111

SOLD: $2,087,000
ROLEX
A Rare Sapphire and Diamond Set Day-Date Ref. 18008 Circa, 1986
Important Watches 
Sotheby’s New York
June 15, 2022
Lot 76

SOLD: $252,000
ROLEX
A possibly unique Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 in 18 karat yellow gold with Pulsation Scale formerly property of Eric Clapton 
The Geneva Watch Auction: XV
Phillip’s, Geneva 
May 7-8, 2022
Lot 116

SOLD: $1,743,998
ROLEX
An exceptional and extremely rare Rolex Daytona Ref. 6269 with Diamond Set Bezel and Pave Diamond and Sapphire Set Dial
Rare Watches: Featuring The Kairos Collection Part I 
Christies, Geneva 
May 9, 2022
Lot 38

SOLD: $1,632,722
ROLEX
FIFA World Cup 2010 – Netherlands Edition Daytona Ref. 116509H Limited Edition 
Important Watches: Part I 
Sotheby’s, Geneva 
May 10, 2022
Lot 32

SOLD: $433,900
ROLEX
A highly rare and attractive Day-Date Ref. 18038 with lapis lazuli dial accompanied by original guarantee paper, numbered hang tag, and presentation box.
The Geneva Watch Auction: XV
Phillip’s, Geneva 
May 7-8, 2022
Lot 232

SOLD: $82,817

VINTAGE CARTIER WATCHES

Vintage Cartier has done extremely well in 2022, with rare models achieving high results at auction. This is due to an elevated interest from collectors, due to an increased awareness in the market about the historical significance and rarity of many vintage Cartier models. A 1990 London dial Cartier Crash from Christie’s Geneva preformed 457% above its conservative estimate of $180,000 – $280,000 grossing $824,241. Similarly, a Cartier Tank Cintree Dual Time ref. 2455 in platinum achieved 278% over its low estimate of $28,200 at Philipps Hong Kong, thus illustrating that vintage Cartier is in strong demand. 

Prices for rare and exceptional vintage Cartier models will continue to appreciate as the loyal collector base for the brand’s early and limited-edition wristwatch models continues to grow. 

CARTIER
An exceptionally rare 18k gold Asymmetric Crash London Dial wristwatch circa 1990  with original Crash deployant clasp
Rare Watches: Featuring The Kairos Collection Part I 
Christie’s, Geneva 
May 9, 2022
Lot 133

SOLD: $824,241
CARTIER
A unique and highly rare Tank Cintree’ Dual Time Ref. 2455 in Platinum with Indigo Blue Numerals  
The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV
Phillip’s, Hong Kong 
May 27-28, 2022
Lot 853

SOLD: $78,676
CARTIER
A historically important large rectangular Grand Tank Cintree’ Presented to Harry Portman from Metro-Goldwin-Mayer for the opening of The Empire Theatre, London, November 8th, 1928  
Rare Watches: Featuring The Kairos Collection Part I 
Christie’s, Geneva 
May 9, 2022
Lot 132

SOLD: $89,196
CARTIER
A very rare and unusual bell-shaped Cloche Limited Edition in 18k gold circa 1990 with Cartier Paris dial  
Rare Watches: Featuring The Kairos Collection Part I 
Christie’s, Geneva 
May 9, 2022
Lot 131

SOLD: $70,083

INDEPENDENT WATCH BRANDS

Watches that are produced by independent watchmakers such as: F.P Journe, George Daniel, Roger Smith, MB & F, and De Bethune have seen great demand amongst buyers at auctions in 2022.  F.P. Journe may be the most well-known of the independent watch brands, as evident by their strong results and quantity of lots at watch sales in 2022.

A F.P Journe Chronomètre Bleu BYBLOS limited edition achieved 248% above its high estimate of $100,000 when it grossed $248,873 at Philipp’s Hong Kong. This was a 474.04% increase from the last Chronomètre Bleu BYBLOS to come to auction before 2022, when one was sold by Christie’s Dubai for $52,500 in 2018. However, other independent watchmakers have seen strong results as evident by the George Daniels Anniversary, which sold for 477% over its low estimate of $500,000 when it achieved a sale amount of $2,389,500 at Phillip’s New York. This sale was 523% above the last known sale amount of a George Daniels Anniversary timepiece, which was in 2019 at Phillip’s Geneva when an example in yellow gold sold for $456,200.

Independent brand watches are beloved by collectors because they are produced by small teams of watchmakers or a single watchmaker in extremely limited quantities and are usually at the forefront of horological innovation. Independent brand watches will continue to do well, as more collectors search for true horological innovation and craftsmanship outside of the larger more well-known brands.

F. P. JOURNE
An early and historically significant Tourbillion Souverain with Certificate of Authenticity Circa, 1999 
The New York Watch Auction: SIX
Phillips, New York 
June 11-12, 2022
Lot 116

SOLD: $1,449,027
ROGER SMITH
A magnificent and extremely limited platinum wristwatch Ref. Series 2 Open Dial  
The New York Watch Auction: SIX
Phillips, New York 
June 11-12, 2022
Lot 11

SOLD: $840,000
GEORGE DANIELS
An extremely rare and historically important Co-Axial limited edition Anniversary wristwatch in platinum bearing serial number “00”  
The New York Watch Auction: SIX
Phillip’s, New York 
June 11-12, 2022
Lot 12

SOLD: $2,389,500
F. P. JOURNE
A very fine and rare Chronomètre Bleu BYBLOS limited edition in tantalum with semi-skeletonized dial  
The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV
Phillip’s, Hong Kong 
May 27-28, 2022
Lot 857

SOLD: $248,873
MB & F
A cutting edge and impressive Legacy Machine Two in platinum with double independent escapements and flying balance wheels 
The New York Watch Auction: SIX
Phillip’s, New York 
June 11-12, 2022
Lot 158

SOLD: $150,000
DE BETHUNE
A fine and attritive DB25 Starry Varius Ref. DB25VTIS3 in grade 5 titanium circa 2020  
The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV
Phillip’s, Hong Kong 
May 27-28, 2022
Lot 829

SOLD: $128,451

MODERN WATCHES

  • ROLEX
  • PATEK PHILIPPE
  • RICHARD MILLE
  • F. P. JOURNE
  • AUDEMARS PIGUET

Over the last five years modern watches from certain brands have seen an immense increase in value, with some even selling for well over their original retail prices. The five brands whose watches have seen the greatest increase in value are: Rolex, F.P. Journe, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Richard Mille. This is because many of the in demand modern watches are produced in very low quantities by their manufacturers, which has caused demand to outpace supply. Furthermore, secondhand dealers have bought up the supply of many of these watches, which has increased this scarcity. These two factors above, combined with the emergence of new collectors into the market has led to an immense increase in the value of certain modern watches. However, starting in May of 2022, the modern watch market has entered a correctionary period, as dealers started to sell off inventories to increase their liquidity. Many of the modern watches from these brands, which saw an immense increase in value were “sports watches”, which are extremely popular with younger buyers due to their versatility and daily wearability. The lack of liquidity in the modern watch market is partially since younger buyers have stopped buying, as economic situations changed, combined with the fact that a fair amount of the transactions driving up the prices of these watches were dealer to dealer transactions. These dealers to dealer transactions quick stopped occurring once the demand from retail users for these in demand sprots watches started to decrease due to changing economic conditions. As a result, many modern watch dealers who chose to speculate by buying up multiple examples of the same model in hopes of raising prices, are left holding inventory that they most likely overpaid for when they bought at peak market prices.

MODERN ROLEX

DAY-DATE 40
2017 $24,183
2022 $48,000
DAYTONA
2017 $16,500
2022 $35,000
SKY-DWELLER
2018 $17,400
2022 $27,000

MODERN F.P. JOURNE

OCTA CHRONOGRAPH
2017 $29,150
2022 $237,000
CENTIGRAPHE
2017 $40,000
2022 $200,000
CHRONOMETRE SOUVERAIN
2017 $18,300
2022 $100,000

MODERN PATEK PHILIPPE

NAUTILUS
2017 $30,000
2022 $140,000
NAUTILUS CHRONOGRAPH 
2017 $46,000
2022 $140,000
NAUTILUS MOONPHASE
2017 $34,000
2022 $130,000

MODERN AUDEMARS PIGUET

ROYAL OAK OPENWORK
2019 $75,000
2022 $230,000
ROYAL OAK PERPETUAL CALENDAR
2017 $47,000
2022 $150,000
ROYAL OAK CHRONOGRAPH
2019 $26,000
2022 $67,000

MODERN RICHARD MILLE

RM11 FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH
2017 $100,000
2022 $310,000
RM55 BUBBA WATSON
2017 $140,000
2022 $400,000
RM35-02 TPT RAFAEL NADAL
2019 $158,000
2022 $412,000

MODERN VS VINTAGE ROLEX CASE STUDIES

ROLEX DAYTONA 
Reference: 6265
ROLEX DAYTONA 
Reference: 116500LN

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Images: All images courtesy of associated auction houses