Auction Report: What We Learned From The May 2018 Geneva Auctions

By HODINKEE

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The last few days have been host to a handful of high-profile watch auctions in Geneva from all the major auction houses, including Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. More Rolex records were set, a superstar’s special watch blew its estimate out of the water, and a unique steel Lange got collectors’ paddles flying. It was a big weekend. We thought it would be worthwhile now, with the sales all finished up, to have each of our editors look back over the last few days to see what they think we can learn about the watch market more broadly from the results, whether it’s what watches are hot, what bargains you should be looking out for, or what came as the biggest surprises.

The Daytona Is Still King


This tropical Paul Newman Daytona pulled in over $900,000 at Sotheby’s.

Well, I’m going to state the obvious here. The market for vintage Rolex Daytonas is still crazy! First we had the Daytona Ultimatum sale at Phillips, which brought in a whopping $22.1 million with 100% of the 32 lots selling (the highlight obviously being “the Unicorn,” which sold for $5.9 million. Though it got much less attention, there was a tropical Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6239 that sold at Sotheby’s for over $900,000, more than three times its estimate. And, rounding things out, there were a handful of unusual Daytonas in the Christie’s sale as well.

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With a final price of $5.9 million, this is now the second most expensive Rolex after Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Daytona.

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With a final price of $5.9 million, this is now the second most expensive Rolex after Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Daytona.

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A pre-Paul Newman Daytona dubbed “The Neanderthal” brought in over $3 million.

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A pre-Paul Newman Daytona dubbed “The Neanderthal” brought in over $3 million.

Ever since I entered this wild world of watches, the vintage Rolex market has been creeping up. I remember when $80,000 was a lot for a Paul Newman Daytona, and now you can’t find one for less than six figures. So what gives? I think it’s a mix of rarity and demand. Every collector now wants a quality vintage Daytona and there are only so many good ones out there. But, more than that, people want something special, not just something in …read more      

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