Auctions

Famed Watch Designer Gerald Genta’s Royal Oak Sells for $2.1M

AuctionsMay 13, 2022

Famed Watch Designer Gerald Genta’s Royal Oak Sells for $2.1M

It became the most valuable vintage Audemars Piguet watch ever sold at auction, according to Sotheby’s.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak once owned by watch designer Gerald Genta, featuring an 18-karat yellow gold bezel Genta produced and added himself, sold for $2.1 million at Sotheby’s Geneva this week.
Geneva—Sotheby’s put the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch once owned by famed designer Gerald Genta on the auction block, and it was a hit. 
 
The watch went up for auction in the “Important Watches: Part I” sale in Geneva on May 10, where it sold for approximately $2.1 million at current exchange rates, making it the most valuable vintage Audemars Piguet ever sold at auction, according to Sotheby’s. 
 
Eight bidders competed for almost six minutes before a Swiss collector made the winning bid. 
 
Audemars Piguet first launched the Royal Oak in 1972, revolutionizing the industry as the first luxury sports watch to be made of steel. 
 
The wristwatch features a date component and an octagonal bezel with eight screws. 
 
Genta designed the Royal Oak overnight, drawing his inspiration from a childhood memory of seeing a man being sealed into an old-fashioned diving suit near the Mont Blanc bridge in Geneva. 
 
The circa 1978 Royal Oak watch that went to auction was unique, because it not only marked the first time a Genta-owned watch went to auction, but also because it had the unique specification of an 18-karat yellow gold bezel Genta produced and added himself at his Swiss workshop. 
 
Its sale came as part of a series bringing to market 100 original watch designs from Genta’s personal archives, each paired with an NFT. 
 
The first auction in the “Icon of Time” series was held in Geneva in February, followed by the second auction in Hong Kong in April. 
 
See: More Highlights from “Important Watches: Part I”
In the May 10 auction in which Genta’s Royal Oak appeared, there were also four rare oil paintings from the watch designer, which achieved $2.3 million total. 
 
This brings the running total of works from Genta’s personal archive to $4.3 million, Sotheby’s said. 
 
Outside of Genta’s personal Royal Oak, collectors still wanted to be a part of the watch designer’s history, with 55 Genta-designed models selling to realize a combined total of $10.7 million.
 
Leading this group was a Patek Phillipe Nautilus Ref. 5976 commemorating the model’s 40th anniversary, which sold for approximately $627,400, and a stainless steel Patek Phillipe Nautilus Ref. 5711 with a rare olive-green dial, which sold for about $526,800. 
 
Sotheby’s noted perpetual calendar Royal Oaks were also in high demand, including a Ref. 25554 in yellow gold with a black dial circa 1986 that sold for about $376,500, and a platinum skeletonized perpetual calendar Ref. 25636, which also went for approximately $376,500. 
 
 Related stories will be right here … 
 
Meanwhile, a Rolex Daytona commemorating the achievements of the Dutch football team in the World Cup—one of only 30—went for more than four times its pre-sale high estimate and set an auction record for the reference when it sold for about $439,200. 
 
And a rare Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” in yellow gold circa 1969 sold for approximately $614,700 after almost three minutes of bidding competition among three bidders. 
 
Sotheby’s “Important Watches: Part I” sale totaled $19.3 million and was 86 percent sold by volume. 

It was followed closely by Part II of Important Watches in Geneva on May 11, which totaled $3.8 million. 
 
The final sequence of “Icons of Time” offering designs from Genta’s archives will take place in New York from June 8-22, led by the most valuable Disney watches he ever made. 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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