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Millennium Watch Fetches Record $2.4M

November 7, 2023  |  Anthony DeMarco
Sotheby's Geneva Luxury Week 2023 1280 USED 071123

A pair of timepieces by two of Britain’s most celebrated watchmakers brought in $3.2 million at the Sotheby’s Important Watches auction on Sunday in Geneva.

The watches by George Daniels and Roger Smith sold in separate lots to the same United Arab Emirates (UAE) collector after intense bidding that lasted more than five minutes for each piece, the auction house said Monday.

The top item in the sale was the last reference from the Millennium series of 50 watches by Daniels and Smith. Completed in 2001, it is also the only watch in the series both watchmakers signed. It fetched more than $2.4 million, double its high estimate and a world record for a Roger Smith timepiece sold at auction. Nine people competed for the watch before the UAE collector placed the winning bid.

The watches in the series were made by both watchmakers, with Daniels — who died in 2011 — as the lead and Smith as his assistant. Smith, who owned the watch, sold it privately to fund his independent watch business, Roger W. Smith, “one of the leading independent watchmakers in the world,” the auction house said. It was the first time it was available at public auction. 

The 37-millimeter, 18-karat white gold case contains a dial with silvered engine turning finish and brushed chapter rings. It’s powered by an Omega automatic movement the two watchmakers modified. 

The second watch was a George Daniels anniversary watch, numbered “01,” the first in a series of 35 watches made to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the watchmaker’s invention of the coaxial escapement mechanism. It fetched $819,357, well above its high estimate.

Again, Daniels and Smith worked together on the piece, handmaking the watch and movement. It features a 40-millimeter 18-karat yellow gold case housing a dial with silvered engine turning finish and gold inlaid brushed chapter rings. The manual winding movement has the single wheel Daniels coaxial escapement, “as conceived by Roger Smith,” the auction house said.

Other important watches fetching prices within or above their top estimates included:

  • A Rolex Military Submariner, ref. 5517, a stainless-steel wristwatch with fixed bar lugs and military engravings, from 1978. Sotheby’s describes it as “one of the most iconic wristwatches ever made, initially introduced in 1953 by Rolex as a diving tool watch.” It sold for $536,580, more than twice its upper estimate.
  • An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel, ref. 25554BA, a “very rare” yellow gold calendar wristwatch with black dial and moon phases from 1985. It realized $367,140, well above its high estimate.
  • A Patek Philippe Nautilus Jumbo, ref. 3700/1A, a stainless-steel watch with date and bracelet, from around 1977, featuring an even-colored tropical hashed dial that sold for $225,900, exceeding its expected range.
  • A Patek Philippe Calatrava, ref. 3998P, a platinum watch with a bespoke date and hieroglyph dial, circa 2002, achieved $155,300.
  • A Rolex Day Date Octopus, ref. 18048, a yellow gold and diamond-set watch, circa 1981, brought in $101,660.
  • An “ultra rare” Patek Philippe 4117/1G white gold and diamond bracelet watch featuring a blue butterfly wing dial sold for $84,761, above its high estimate and setting a world record price for this particular model, Sotheby’s said.
  • A Patek Philippe World Time, ref. 5110G, a white gold watch with a prototype dial from 2003, sold for $81,880, within estimates.
  • A Richard Mille, ref. RM35-02 RAFA, a carbon TPT and diamond-set skeletonized wristwatch, circa 2016, designed to tennis champion Rafael Nadal’s specifications. It went for $68,290, topping its high estimate.

Main image: The last watch from George Daniels and Roger Smith’s Millennium series. (Sotheby’s)

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Sotheby's Geneva Luxury Week 2023 1280 USED 071123 Millennium Watch Fetches Record $2.4M

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