While much of the last couple of week’s headlines have been dominated by headwinds in the stock and crypto markets, rate rises and inflation, these are issues that clearly aren’t impacting the world’s top watch collectors. Last week at the Phillips watch auction in New York, a green Patek Philippe Nautilus sold for US$478,800 (AU$681,963), which is an almost unimaginably steep appreciation from its 2021 retail price of US$34,893 (AU$49,350).
It was a very successful weekend for the Phillips New York team, who secured their second most successful sale ever, selling all 163 lots for a total of US$30,332,000 (AU$43,639,406), including seven lots that sold for more than $1 million. However, while high-end independent watchmaking dominated the most expensive lots, a green-dial ref. 5711 was lurking in the top 15 watches next to an infinitely more compelling Nautilus ref. 5976 in white gold with diamond indexes that sold for the same price.
While I wish such remarkable prices for green-dial Nautilus watches were something of a rarity, unfortunately, it seems the price of US$478,800 is actually the current market price for the white-hot timepiece. Indeed, an analysis from the watch market tracking site WatchCharts suggests that anything from US$442,000 to US$551,700 is a “fair price,” with the typical premium seen for these watches exceeding 1,300%. Yes, you read that right.
While the swinging scythe of market volatility may yet set its sights on the upper echelons of watch collecting, it certainly hasn’t happened yet, with record-breaking auction prices continuing to be achieved at an almost weekly rate. The only question we’re left wondering is this: if the market for six-figure timepieces does decline, will it be a slow softening like an air mattress overnight, or will it be a loud pop as the money wheezes out of the market?