Breaking News: Monumental Patek Philippe Calibre 89 Fails to Find Buyer

Once the world's most complicated timepiece goes unsold in Geneva.

The star of the first day of the spring Geneva watch auction season was undoubtedly the Rolex ref. 6062 “Bao Dai”, owned by the last Emperor of Vietnam and now worth a mega US$5m.

But the second day’s highlight is a far more monumental watch, the 33-complication, double-faced Patek Philippe Calibre 89 in yellow gold, which just went unsold.

The saleroom in Geneva’s Mandarin Oriental was stacked with prominent personalities including collector Claude Sfeir, Antiquorum founder Osvaldo Patrizzi, Singapore retailer Michael Tay, as well as Christie’s watch department head John Reardon.

Opening the bidding at SFr5.9m, the auxtioneer nudged the price upwards in SFr50,000 increments. But after several pregnant and the auctioneer’s valiant efforts while raising the price to SFr6.45m – the low estimate was SFr6.5m – the Calibre 89 passed.

Patek Philippe calibre 89 yellow gold sothebys 2

The lack of interest is an ignominious result for a historically important timepiece, one that was the most complicated ever when it made its debut in 1989 for Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary.

Sotheby’s placed an estimate of SFr6.5m to SFr10m, with the result confirming the pre-sale scepticism amongst insiders, since this Calibre 89 was shopped around for some time last year, with Christie’s offering it via private sale for over US$10m. The fact that it has gone through several hands, perhaps being the most sold Calibre 89, also had an impact on its allure.

Now there will undoubtedly be offers made privately, and perhaps the watch will still disappear into a collection somewhere.


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Breaking News: Rolex “Bao Dai” Wristwatch Sets New World Record

The last Emperor of Vietnam's Rolex watch sells for over US$5m in Geneva.

Phillips’ watch auction impresario Aurel Bacs just brought the hammer down on the Rolex ref. 6062 “Bao Dai”, establishing a new world record for a Rolex wristwatch sold at auction.

With fees the “Bao Dai” sold for SFr5.066m, or about US$5.061m – doubling the last record of SFr2.4m set in 2016 by the ref. 4113 split-seconds.

The record was set after bidding by several parties, including Milan-based dealer Davide Parmegiani, prominent Lebanese gem merchant and watch collector Claude Sfeir, as well as the manager of the now defunct watch hedge fund Alfredo Paramico.

Aurel Bacs

But in the end it was down to just two anonymous bidders, represented by Joey Luk of Phillips Hong Kong and Paul Maudsley of the auctioneer’s London office.

Finally it was clinched by Maudsley’s client, with a hammer price of SFr4.3m that was met with prolonged applause in the room.

Rolex Bao Dai Aurel Bacs Phillips 3

Notably, Maudsley also represented the winning bidder for the Patek Philippe ref. 1518 in steel that sold last year for SFr11m.

The “Bao Dai”, a Rolex triple calendar wristwatch, is a rare timepiece in itself – the diamond-set dial is probably one of a kind – but its allure has been infinitely boosted by its provenance.

Rolex 6062 Bao Dai 1

Rolex 6062 Bao Dai 5

Rolex 6062 Bao Dai 4

Rolex 6062 Bao Dai 3

The Rolex gets its name from Bảo Đại of the Nguyen dynasty, the Emperor of Vietnam from 1926 to 1955. Acquired by the Emperor in Geneva while he was in the Swiss city for peace talks to end the Indochina conflict, the wristwatch is one of many tasteful objects the erstwhile sovereign owned, a trove that included a custom body Ferrari 375 MM Spyder.


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