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Fine watchmaking : 2019 was a record year for Sotheby’s

Fine watchmaking : 2019 was a record year for Sotheby’s

In a recent press release, the British firm Sotheby’s announced that 2019 was the best year ever for fine watchmaking, with a result estimated at 109 million dollars.

By Luxus Plus


Numerous records reached


First record of the year 2019, the sale for 4.6 million dollars of the iconic “Space Traveller 1” watch by George Daniels. Designed as a tribute to the astronauts so admired by the watchmaker, this watch is one of the most sophisticated timepieces of our time.


“2019 was a historic year for us, and it confirms the ever-growing popularity of this category around the world. Several factors contributed to this success, including the sale of exceptional objects, the rigorous selection of lots, as well as the increase in sales via the internet,” Sam Hines, global head of fine watchmaking at Sotheby’s, told the press.


According to him, “for many collectors, watches transcend their primary function as timepieces and consumers now appreciate the vision, tradition, craftsmanship and prowess that a watch represents”.


Another record, the average value of a batch of watches is 49,000 dollars (+10% compared to the previous year) and 44% of the batches exceeded estimates. In terms of private sales, 2019 was once again a record year and for the first time in its history, Sotheby’s sold 7 timepieces worth more than 1 million dollars.


The Flagship Lot Collection


“Masterworks of time”: Pocket watches have triumphed this year, thanks to the famous “Masterworks of time” collection. With new sales in 2020, the first two installments in July and November together achieved 15.8 million dollars, which already exceeds the estimates set by the brand for the entire collection, which comprises 800 watches. The latter were between $15 and $27 million.

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Still in the same collection, the masterpiece created by watchmaker Jehan Cremsdorff, a yellow gold watch perfectly adorned with enamel and diamonds, sold for an estimated $2.7 million. In 1986, this pocket watch had reached a record price at auction as it sold for $998,400.


Sotheby’s, a luxury watchmaking brand that is expanding rapidly, particularly on the internet as 56% of lots were sold online (4 times more than in 2014). The proportion in value of internet auctions has tripled in 5 years and the total number of digital sales has doubled since 2018 thanks to numerous innovations and new partnerships. For example, in February an IWC Big Pilot aviator’s watch worn by actor Bradley Cooper when he performed alongside Lady Gaga during the 91st Academy Awards sold for $75,000.



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