With its final auction of the fall season on December 14 in New York, Christie's International wrapped up a record-breaking year for fine and rare watches that realised US$91.2m in total sales, the highest annual total ever achieved for watches at the global auction house.
During what has emerged as a remarkable year for investing in fine timepieces, every watch sale hosted at Christie's salerooms in Dubai, Hong Kong, Geneva, and in New York achieved sell-through rates above 90% by value.
The top watch of the year was a unique Patek Philippe Reference 1527 manufactured in 1943 that sold for a World Record US $5.7m at Christie's Geneva. According to Christie's, no other auction house in the world achieved as many record prices for important timepieces during 2010.
"Our sale in New York this week marked the culmination of a truly stellar year for watches at auction, and re-affirmed Christie's dominance of the global market for fine and rare timepieces," said Aurel Bacs, International Head of Watches at Christie's.
"We have welcomed in a wealth of new collectors to this field in the past year, and witnessed an exponential growth in buyer participation from Asian countries, led primarily by mainland China and Hong Kong.
"At the same time, established collectors from the private, trade, and institutional sectors in Europe and the US continue to add great depth and strength to this category, giving us a solid foundation for the year ahead. We look forward to our first round of sales in April 2011," said Bacs.
Amongst the leading collections of the year was The Millennium Collection in Hong Kong, A Connoisseur's Vision, Parts II and III in Geneva, and most recently, the collection of award-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia in New York - all of which exceeded their pre-sale estimates.
Together with Part I, offered in the fall of 2009, A Connoisseur's Vision achieved of grand total of some $19m and became the most valuable private collection of wristwatches ever offered at auction.
Meanwhile, Christie's attributes this year's success to the convenience and increasing popularity of online bidding. At the December 15 sale of Important Watches in New York, 321 clients from 19 countries registered to bid online - the highest ever for a Christie's watches sale.
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