A history-rewriting 18k pink gold Patek Philippe pocket watch, once owned by famed US industrialist Stephen S Palmer (1853-1913), has become the most valuable watch auctioned this year.
The Stephen S Palmer Grand Complication no. 97912 sold for $2.3m at Christie's Important Watches auction on June 11 in New York, 50.1% above its $1.5m high estimate.
In doing so it set a new record for a Patek Philippe grand complication, the name given to a watch that features perpetual calendar, Moon phases, split-seconds chronograph and grand and petite sonnerie.
Manufactured in 1898, the watch came with its original presentation box, certificate, and receipt from its 1900 purchase.
Its strong showing can be attributed to a combination of its excellent provenance and its place in history: until this watch was discovered, it was thought that Patek Philippe did not make its first grand complications until around 1910.
Douglas Escribano, in charge of the sale, commented: "We are thrilled the S Palmer Patek Philippe Grand Complication, No. 97912 was purchased by an American collector and pleased this historical timepiece will remain in the United States."
The sale is confirmation of the continuing demand for the finest timepieces by the Swiss manufacturer. A rare platinum Patek Philippe wristwatch auctioned for $609,500 at Christie's Hong Kong last month.
Yesterday's $7.9m grossing auction also featured a world auction record for a Rolex Reference 5036, with a $171,750 sale price for the circa 1949 pink gold timepiece.
We have this Longines men's watch currently for sale.