The vintage watch market saw extraordinary growth over the past decade, with more and more collectors becoming drawn into the field. It’s easy to understand why, as this period has also seen many historically important watches appearing on the market, generating increased momentum and hype, and leading to higher prices across the board – most notably for pieces by Rolex and Patek Philippe.
To illustrate this growth, in 2010 the record price for a wristwatch was set by a Patek Philippe Gold Chronograph Ref 1527, which made $5.7m, a price which has since been beaten no fewer than seven times. In 2017, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona made headlines selling for $17.75m, and in 2019, a unique Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime made $31.2m – a truly staggering price.
The market today remains strong and collectors continue to be particularly attracted to watches offering rarity, complexity and good provenance. For example, in last year’s main auctions, three new world records were set for vintage Rolex watches, all at Antiquorum: a 1955 Oyster Chronograph 6034 in rose gold (a rare material for this model), which was last sold in 2014 for $68,200, made $660,400; a 1979 COMEX Submariner 1680 which was last sold in 2014 for CHF$191,000 made CHF$524,000; and a 1969 Mark II Red Submariner 1680 with a tropical dial made CHF$191,000.