Family Favourites Lead Bonhams Best-ever Fine Watches Bond Street Sale

Bonhams Watch department achieved its best ever UK sale for Bonhams Europe yesterday, 19 June, when its Fine Wristwatches sale realised a total of more than £2,600,000 and an 83 per cent sale rate.

Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams Global Head of Watches, commented: "We are delighted with the sale which has returned the best ever result in the UK for Bonhams Europe. There was a real buzz about the auction created by enthusiastic bidding - not only in the room but also from telephone and online bidders from around the world."

The top lot of the curated sale of 109 lots, held at the Bonhams New Bond Street headquarters, was a 1947 Patek Philippe ref 1518 in yellow gold – one of the rarest watches ever produced by the famous watchmaker – which sold for an impressive £332,313.

The watch, which has been owned by the same family since it was purchased new in 1948, made its first appearance at auction yesterday. It was the subject of a several-way bidding battle before being sold to a telephone bidder.

Staying true to the company's advertising line: 'You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation', an extremely rare large size gold manual chronograph bracelet watch ref 530, dating from 1952, was sold by a direct descendent of the original owner. This was sold to a collector in the room for £187,563.

The luxury Geneva-based brand enjoyed a strong performance in the sale, with six Patek Philippe watches featuring in the top 10 lots, including a successor to the 1518 - a 'box fresh' never worn 5970P, circa 2008, which achieved £100,063.

The brand's Nautilus watches continue to perform well, with two examples selling above estimate. A 2007 example realised £75,063, doubling its estimate, while a Jumbo Nautilus version from 1983 sold for £68,813.

The sale also proved that the Patek Philippe Aquanaut model is one to watch, being bought by collectors who have been priced out of the Nautilus market. A 1999 example sold for £22,563.

Rolex was another star brand at the Bonhams Bond Street sale, led by the ever-popular 'MilSub' tool watch. A Rolex Military Submariner, dating from around 1972, also made its first auction appearance today, offered in excellent condition and realising £137,563. Commissioned by the Ministry of Defence in the early 1970s to meet the rigorous demands of the Special Forces, many of these watches were heavily damaged during their years of military use.

A fellow Rolex Submariner giving a ship-shape performance was a rare circa 1959 example, with gilt dial and square crown guards, which achieved an astonishing £68,813 – more than five times its estimate.

Other highlights from yesterday's Bonhams Fine Watches sale include:

A 1987 Rolex Sea-Dweller, ref 16660, purchased from the world-renowned jeweller, Tiffany & Co. It was given as a Christmas present in 1988 to actor and director William Westley. This touch of Hollywood elevated the watch's sale price to a starry £50,063.

A Cartier Baignoire Oval Maxi, a rare oversized 18K gold manual oval wristwatch dating from 1968, with a matching number clasp described as 'traditional Cartier fastening', achieved £65,063. The model was handmade in London in a limited run, which makes it a rare sight at auctions.

Three examples from the independent watchmaker F.P.Journe also performed well. A 2009 Centigraphe Souverain achieved £23,812; a 2005 Chronometre a Resonance realised £37,563, while a Dead Seconds Tourbillon, also dating from 2009 sold for an estimate-beating £56,313.

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