All of Sotheby’s ‘Rough Diamonds’ Sold in Less Than an Hour

AuctionsApr 15, 2024

All of Sotheby’s ‘Rough Diamonds’ Sold in Less Than an Hour

The auction house said all 24 timepieces offered in its underground sale of rare and avant-garde watches quickly found buyers.

Audemars Piguet circa 1985 emerald car watch
Jacqueline Dimier, Audemars Piguet’s head of product design for more than two decades, designed this emerald-set car watch in 1985. The timepiece, which Sotheby’s said is probably a one-of-a-kind, sold for almost $120,000 at the “Rough Diamonds” auction.
Geneva—Sotheby’s “Rough Diamonds” did not have a hard time finding buyers last week in Geneva, with all 24 lots selling in less than an hour, the auction house said. 

Rough Diamonds is what Sotheby’s dubbed its sale of unusual and avant-garde watches that it organized in partnership with creative collective heist-out.   

The auction, featuring watches mainly from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, was billed as a “gender-free” concept watch sale and took place underground, literally.  

After three days of public exhibition, the watches were auctioned off Thursday evening in the subterranean wine cellar at Geneva event space La Corne à Vin.   

All told, Rough Diamonds garnered 1.13 million Swiss francs ($1.3 million), with 15 of the 24 lots topping their highest pre-sale estimates.  

“‘Rough Diamonds’ was born from the desire to bring to market a concept watch sale that truly resonated with collectors,” Josh Pullan, global head of Sotheby’s luxury division, said. “The results of tonight’s sale, with all 24 lots selling to such a diverse and enthusiastic group of buyers, has validated that vision, which we shared with heist-out, our passionate creative partners in this new project.  

“The fact that the Gilbert Albert-designed Patek Philippe—the most idiosyncratic and extravagant lot in the sale—has become the most valuable lot sold tonight proves there is a definite appetite amongst buyers for non-conformist and boldly eccentric timepieces presented in a differentiated context.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Though the timepieces were unusual, the brand of watch that landed the spot as the sale’s top lot was not. 

A bidder paid CHF 393,700 ($435,727) for a bracelet watch, ring, and necklace Swiss jeweler Gilbert Albert designed for Patek Philippe in 1962, nearly eight times its highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 50,000 ($55,253). 

Patek Philippe Gilbert Albert suite
Gilbert Albert designed this Patek Philippe suite in the 1960s. A buyer paid more than $400,000 for it at Thursday’s “Rough Diamonds” auction.

The watch, ring and necklace are 18-karat yellow gold set with enamel and pearls. 

The second highest-grossing diamond in the rough was Audemars Piguet’s “Cobra Royal Khanjar” from 1985, so named because of its snake-like bracelet. 

Audemars Piguet Cobra Royal Khanjar
The 18-karat white gold Audemars Piguet “Cobra Royal Khanjar” topped its highest pre-sale estimate, selling for more than $180,000.

The sleek white gold watch topped its highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 100,000, selling for CHF 165,100 ($182,724).  

Rounding out the auction’s top three was another Audemars Piguet, this one designed in 1985 by Jacqueline Dimier, the brand’s head of product design from 1975 to 1999.  

The watch (pictured at top of article) is in the shape of a green car, with the emerald- and diamond-set automobile flipping open to reveal a tiny mother-of-pearl watch face.  

It sold for CHF 107,950 ($119,474), topping its highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 80,000 ($88,382).

To see the full results of the Rough Diamonds sale, visit the Sotheby’s website

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