Just a few weeks ago, Phillips, in association with the Bacs and Russo auction house, held his auction in New York where 100 percent of the lots and over $ 35 million worth of watches were sold. . The auction marked several milestones for the house, which today announced its most successful year in auction history, both live and digitally online. The annual auction total was over $ 209 million, a first for an auction house. Interestingly, while the number was up 57% from 2020, it was almost 90% growth from pre-pandemic sales figures in 2019.
“The watch auction market has grown exponentially and we have seen a massive increase in the number of participants in global auctions this year, âsays Aurel Bacs, senior consultant at Phillips in association with Bacs and Russo. âPhillips organized our sales with the utmost attention to detail, selecting only the highest quality watches, which is reflected in the fact that we have sold 100% of the watches offered this year. “
In fact, this 100% sale year was also a first for an auction house in history, and Phillips can boast that more than 27 of its timepieces have passed the $ 1 million mark. Notable world records have been set for certain watches in particular, including an Omega, Philippe Dufour, Roger Smitha and others. Additionally, Phillips’ retail destination, Perpetual, both online and through a dedicated store, experienced unprecedented growth in 2021 compared to 2020 with a 245% sales increase.
In a private interview, Paul Boutros, Phillips’ Americas Watch Manager, said there are many factors that have contributed to the sensational growth of the pre-owned watch market. âThe market is the strongest it has ever been for collector’s watches with an unprecedented number of people discovering the watches. The supply is so low and cannot meet the demand. The pandemic is one reason, but another is the influence of social media, the number of celebrities wearing more and more beautiful watches on their feeds and in the movies, and the fact that there is a lot of cash. People have made their fortunes in cryptocurrency, and they are looking for physical assets so that they can have fun with their money.
In fact, according to year-end statistics released today by Phillips, auction participants throughout 2021 were from 84 countries and over 40% of registrants were new to Phillips. About a third of all bidders were under 40 years old.
According to Boutros, with so many brands unable to keep up with demand, customers who want something immediately, especially newcomers to the world of watch collecting, without having to wait years for a particular watch, are turning to to the secondary market. The watches they want range from the biggest brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohne, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin, to small independent brands like FP Journe, Richard Mille, MB&F and others.
Perhaps this is the reason why the Patek Philippe Ref. 5711 Nautilus with Tiffany BlueÂ® dial sold at auction in New York in December for $ 6.5 million. He set a new world record and the proceeds were all donated to The Nature Conservancy as requested by Tiffany. Before the auction, Patek Philippe had announced that it would cease production of the Ref. 5711, but the special edition was announced and collectors rushed to get one. Hence the auction tag of $ 6.5 million for a watch that should have sold for between $ 50,000 and $ 120,000.
At that same December auction, which grossed over $ 35 million, an Omega Speedmaster once owned by author Ralph Ellison also sold for a record amount for that watch: $ 667,800.
The list goes on and on and records have been set by other auction houses besides Phillips. It is indicative of the state of health of the second-hand watch industry for old and modern watches (1980 and newer).