Selling a watch for more than a million dollars is rare. But over the weekend, the auction house Phillips sold not one, not two, but six watches with staggering seven-figure pricetags at two back-to-back sales.
On Saturday, at an auction dedicated to the Rolex Daytona (called, dramatically, The Daytona Ultimatum), the house sold 32 watches, with five of them clearing the $1 million mark. The sale, organized partly as a response to Phillips’ record-breaking $17.7 million auction of Paul Newman’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in the fall, rounded up some of the rarest examples of the model on the market—and watch auction prices often rise or fall depending on the timepiece’s rarity (or lack thereof).
The top-selling lot, a white gold Oyster Cosmograph made around 1970, generated a staggering $5.9 million, making it the second-most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction. It’s one of the only known examples of a Daytona in that precious material. Virtually all other Daytonas on the market are made from stainless steel or yellow gold; this watch, called The Unicorn, appears to be a one-off commission. (Its price may also have been prodded along because its consigner wanted to dedicate all proceeds from the sale to Children Action, a Swiss charity dedicated to improving the lives of children around the world.)
All told, the auction raised $22,182,281.
“The record-breaking sale results of Daytona Ultimatum reflected the collector community’s desire for highest quality property and the importance of the Rolex Daytona in the field of collector’s wristwatches,” said Aurel Bacs, the auctioneer who organized the sale, in a statement. “It’s been a tremendous honor offering ‘The Unicorn’ on behalf of John Goldberger, which achieved one of the largest charitable contributions ever in our industry. After the Joanne Woodward / Paul Newman Daytona we sold last season, it achieved the second highest price ever for a Rolex wristwatch. We are thrilled with this historic result and philanthropic gesture, and delighted by the lasting benefits the sale of this watch will provide to so many children.”
In its other big sale, the Geneva Watch Auction SEVEN, Phillips sold a diamond-studded Omega wristwatch that RCA Records gave to Elvis Presley in 1960 for a record-breaking $1.8 million. The watch, now the most expensive Omega ever sold, was a gift to commemorate selling 75 million records around the world. (The previous owner got it for free: Elvis reportedly just kinda gave it to his uncle after he said how much he liked it.)
A closer look at this weekend’s most exciting watch sales (and how much they sold for) below.
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