Timekeepers Club / December 11, 2020

The 2019 New York Watch auction hosted by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, realized $20m

Led by the Urwerk AMC which realized $2.9 million, Marlon Brando's Rolex GMT-Master sells for $1.952 million and Jack Nicklaus' Rolex achieves $1.22 Million, with proceeds from both Rolex watches benefitting charity. Multiple Records Set for Models by Patek Philippe and Several Independent Makers.

GAME CHANGERS, the 2019 New York Watch auction hosted by PHILLIPS in Association with Bacs & Russo, realized $20,169,875/ CHF19,847,157 / €18,177,091, selling 100% by lot and 100% by value.

This auction marks the first time that a U.S. auction has ever seen five watches sell above $1 million. The sale set several world auction records across brands and models, notably for a Rolex GMT-Master, a Rolex Day-Date, a Patek Philippe reference 1518 in rose gold, and a second series Patek Philippe reference 2499 in yellow gold. Remarkable results were also seen across many independent watchmaking brands, including records for Urwerk and F.P.Journe, as well as a record price for a Lange 1 in stainless steel. The sale also matched the world record for a Philippe Dufour Simplicity, set last month in Geneva.

Aurel Bacs, Phillips' Senior Consultant, said, "Our third annual New York watch auction, GAME CHANGERS, brought together an extraordinary group of timepieces that were owned by those who have reached unprecedented heights in their field, alongside truly groundbreaking watch models by leading brands. The unprecedented success of tonight's sale is a testament to the ever-growing community of discerning watch enthusiasts, who responded enthusiastically to the meticulously curated sale of 74 lots. It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to preside over this record-breaking auction."

Paul Boutros, Phillips' Head of Watches, Americas, added, "It was an honor to work with such an exceptional group of consignors this season, many of whose iconic watches were sold to benefit charitable organizations. I was humbled to have had the opportunity to meet Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, and Petra Brando Fischer, Marlon Brando's daughter, who so openly shared such wonderful memories of her father. Witnessing their extraordinary generosity was a game-changing experience. Mr. Nicklaus' prized Rolex Day-Date realized $1.22 million for the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, while Marlon Brando's Rolex GMT-Master achieved $1.952 million, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Brando Fischer Foundation. We were delighted to see a great deal of international participation in the sale, with bidders from over 50 countries enthusiastically raising their paddles, especially for the watches whose proceeds are being donated to such worthy causes."

Leading the auction was Urwerk's Atomic Mechanical Control, a tour-de-force of modern watchmaking, which realized $2.9 million, setting a new world record for the independent Swiss brand. Offered along with a mechanical wristwatch, Urwerk devoted 10 years of research and development to create this masterful work of art, leading to one of the most important timepieces ever created.

Patek Philippe's exceedingly rare "pink-on-pink" reference 1518 sold for $2.3 million, having been consigned from the family of the original owner, while the Patek Philippe reference 2499 in yellow gold achieved $2,024,000. Its discovery changed established scholarship, with round pushers originally delivered by Patek Philippe, making it one of the most important examples of the reference to ever surface.

Marlon Brando Rolex, Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master, Rolex GMT-Master Apocalypse Now, Rolex Apocalypse Now, Brando Rolex
Marlon Brando on the Set of Apocalypse Now. Credit: Mary Ellen Mark

After over 20 minutes of bidding from collectors across 3 continents, underscoring the enduring legacy of the most iconic actor of the 20th century, Marlon Brando's Rolex GMT-Master reference 1675 sold for $1,952,000. With absolutely superb provenance, it was famously seen on Brando's wrist in Apocalypse Now and long thought to have been missing.

Marlon Brando Rolex, Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master, Rolex GMT-Master Apocalypse Now, Rolex Apocalypse Now, Brando Rolex

Marlon Brando Rolex, Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master, Rolex GMT-Master Apocalypse Now, Rolex Apocalypse Now, Brando Rolex

Additionally, Vacheron Constantin's unique Overseas Dual Time Prototype sold for $106,250, with proceeds going toward the National Geographic Society; Tag Heuer's Monaco Piece d'Art was sold to benefit United Way of New York City; proceeds from watches by Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet will benefit One Drop; and Random Act Funding will benefit from the sale of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Iron worn by Robert Downey, Jr. in Avengers: Endgame.


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