Lot 2427 Patek Philippe ref. 3448/8


Upcoming Patek Philippe highlights from the world's watch auctions

The autumn auction season often reveals some exciting sales traditionally with the largest held in Geneva. However, in a COVID-19 world, all rules have changed and we are seeing new and different ways that the auction houses are marketing their top lots to global clientele. One notable evolution is Christie’s focus on their flagship sale offerings in Hong Kong.  (Their Geneva online sale can be seen here ) Christie’s is aggressively putting all their eggs in one basket with this monumental live November 28th sale in Hong Kong. The 228 lots include 95 Patek Philippe timepieces, with a wide selection representing over 120 years of the company’s production. From a Patek perspective, we have quite a few favorites in this auction and here are six pieces we will be watching closely and making our sales price predictions. After the sale, we will add commentary to see how our pricing guesses went since we all know that anything can happen in the unpredictable world of auction!

Lot 2427 Ref. 3448/8

The Ruby Collection offers eight watches that have special dials that highlight the noble red gem. Included among the bold offering is a ref. 3448/8, Patek Philippe’s first self-winding perpetual calendar made in 1968 and presented as a ‘one-of -a-kind’. The ref. 3448/8 is a bracelet watch with the affectionally nicknamed ‘cheese-grater’ bracelet that we sometimes see on the Beta 21 ref. 3587. Of the three known ref. 3448/8s, this is the only one known with a ruby dial. This dial was added during a service in 1991 by special order. The back of the dial says ‘RH1991’ confirming this change and it is interesting to note that Patek Philippe had Stern Frères make custom dials. It is also worth noting that the rubies are set in white gold rather than yellow gold, most likely per the client’s request.  The estimate is 517,000 – 1 million USD. Collectability guesses this watch will sell for 800,000 USD.

Results: We guessed 800,000 USD and actual all-in price was 645,000 USD. Considering the dial was added by Patek at a later date, this is a fair price for both buyer and seller. 

Lot 2429 Patek Philippe ref. 5036G

Lot 2429 Ref. 5036G

Within the Ruby Collection, there are many favorites but nothing is creating more buzz than the white gold Aquanaut ref. 5063G with 12 baguette set rubies on the dial. Made in 1997 by custom order, this previously unknown watch is simply stunning. As the only 18K white gold Aquanaut to exist (until the ref. 5168G was released in 2017), this watch is of the utmost historical importance and a welcome surprise in this sale. In the Patek Philippe Magazine Volume IV Number 4, Thierry Stern commented on a ruby Aquanaut in an article celebrating the history of the Aquanaut, “If I remember well, four little squares in the middle of the dial were diamonds or emeralds or sapphire or rubies at the time. It was quite amazing because it was for a soldier but was also set with a high level of stones. I still think about those watches and wonder why I have never seen one at auction, but they never, ever appear.” Until now. The estimate is 517,000 – 1 million USD. Collectability expects this will be the first time an Aquanaut will break seven figures and we guess it will bring 1 million USD.

Results: We guessed 1M USD and actual all-in price was 630,000 USD. Congratulations to the buyer for acquiring this incredibly unique piece of Patek Philippe history! I hope time will tell who this watch was originally made for?

Lot 2430 Patek Philippe ref. 3939R

Lot 2430 Ref. 3939

It is difficult to put more aesthetic and technical beauty into a 33.5 mm space than with this ref. 3939 in 18K pink gold, which includes a minute repeater, tourbillon, and a unique ruby dial. It is interesting to note that this dial is not enamel as traditionally seen on a ref. 3939, but silvered with the rubies set in gold. Bold and beautiful, it is also estimated at 517,000 – 1 million USD. Collectability guesses it will sell for 800,000 USD, a very lucky number indeed for the buyer.

Results: We guessed 800,000 USD and the final result was a non-result. The watch did not sell. This same unique example previously sold at Christie’s back in 2013 but no luck finding a buyer this time. 

Lot 2283 Patek Philippe ref. 4539/1

Lot 2283 Ref. 4539/1

We are thrilled to see this incredible watch come back to auction. Previously offered the Patek Philippe 175 Anniversary auction in 2014, this unique watch continues to surprise us with its unusual shape. Made in 1975, this is the only known example of a ref. 4539/1. The diamond-set lapis dial, two-tone case and bracelet, plus the fact that it is complete with box and papers are the perfect recipe for a good bidding battle. Estimate is 71,000 – 130,000 USD and Collectability guesses it will sell for 150,000 USD.

Results: We guessed 150,000 USD and actual all-in price was 88,000 USD. Such an incredible bargain and Collectability deeply regrets not bidding on it! Lesson to be learned is always throw in a bid if there is a watch that you want and never assume that you will be priced out. Anything is possible at auction. This watch last sold at the PP175 sale in 2014 and brought 118,175 CHF. 

Lot 2284 Patek Philippe ref. 4229/1

Lot 2284 Ref. 4229/1

We are very happy to see Patek Philippe ladies watches are finally getting the attention they deserve. It can be easily argued the pinnacle of ladies bracelet watch design was in the 1970s and this ref. 4229/1J is the ultimate expression of artistry from the era. Made with 18K yellow gold, tiger’s eye and lapis lazuli, the design of this watch is a symphony of the art of case-making and bracelet making. The estimate is 52,000 – 104,000 USD and Collectability guesses it will sell for 40,000 USD — but hope it brings much more!

Results: We guessed 40,000 USD and actual all-in price was 68,000. Interestingly, this watch was also previous seen at the PP175 auction.

Lot 2422 Patek Philippe ref. 2526G

Lot 2422 Ref. 2526

Nothing says understatement and connoisseurship more than a Patek Philippe ref. 2526. As Patek’s first automatic watch, introduced in 1953, collectors seek out the finest examples ever made. When one makes the leap to 18K white gold, it gets ever more competitive with only 70 examples thought to have been made in this metal. This is a fresh-to-market example and appears to be very well preserved. Estimate 310,000 – 414,000 USD and Collectability guesses it will bring 250,000 USD.

Results: We guessed 250,000 USD and actual all-in price was 500,000 USD. We are very happy to be so far off in this prediction and it shows the market is moving upward for superlative time only watches in rare metals. Congrats to both the buyer and the seller.


Compliments to Christie’s for the new style layout of their catalogue and the beautiful photography. All the images in this article are courtesy of Christie’s.

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