How much would you pay to own a part of horological history?
Described as "one of the most sought-after vintage wristwatches of all time," a rare Patek Philippe watch just sold for $2.5 million.
While the high price may surprise you, experts in the field can't say that the sum fetched for the extravagant watch was unexpected.
The Patek Philippe – reference No. 2499 – that sold for $2.5 million at a Hong Kong auction at the end of May, is extremely rare. So rare, in fact, that only 349 models of it were made.
Production of this timepiece collection began in 1951 and ceased in 1988. When all was said and done, the $2.5 million prize was one of only six 2499s to be cased within pink gold.
Of those rare editions, this horological collector's watch was crafted in 1968, making it the second-oldest of the six.
Described by Phillips, the Hong Kong auction house charged with the sale, as completely unpolished and unmarred, the ultra-rare watch is known – not unsurprisingly – for its striking beauty.
While it only took 30 minutes for the 2499 to be claimed by its new owner at the Chinese auction, it took much longer for the watch to develop its unique look and accumulated worth.
To set the classic Patek Philippe further apart from the crowd, the vintage wristwatch boasts a dial of hard enamel adorned in an ivory color – a hue that has continued to change due to the aging of the watch.
Phillips suggests this piece of the watch is "possibly unique" because of its flat dial, made evident by a missing semi-circle indentation. The missing detail on this 2499 model generally serves to complete a watch's moon-phase complication.
Further setting it apart on the market, this little watch is the only one of this exact model that boasts this specific dial. Experts agree that this is likely another reason that the watch sold for such a high and inflated price.
The company behind the classic collectible, Patek Philippe & Co., is a Swiss watch manufacturer that began production in 1851. They are known predominantly for timepieces and movements, boasting some of the most complicated and detailed mechanical watches. It is considered by many horological aficionados to be one of the most prestigious of all watch brands.
The bidder who traded in $2.5 million for the vintage 2499 wristwatch was not identified. The same model was last seen up for auction over ten years ago, when it sold for nearly 1 million Swiss francs ($1,037,349 in American currency).
Another example of Patek Philippe's expensive and complicated work is the Henry Graves Supercomplication, a watch specifically made in 1933 for the prominent banker Henry Graves, Jr. Following Graves' death, the watch was auctioned by Sotheby's and sold for $11 million in December of 1999. Most recently, it sold at Sotheby's Geneva Auction in November of 2014 for $24 million.