Why Are There More Million-Dollar Watches At Auction Than Ever?

The jade-dial Journe that sold for 1,134,000 francs.

😈 Every season, at every auction house, Davidoff typically uses the same paddle number: 69.

“And everyone thinks it’s because I’m a perv,” Davidoff said, “but it’s actually because I like Speedmasters.” (The Speedmaster was the watch worn during the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.)

Is it a little bit of both? I asked. 


I didn’t know you got to pick your own paddle number. 

“You do not,” Davidoff explained, “but when you live in Geneva and you go out to lunch with these people, and you annoy them all the time…I’ve had 69 at Philips since the 2000s when they opened and same with Antiqourum.”

However, his routine was almost disrupted at Christie’s on Saturday morning. Christie’s was Davidoff’s first auction of the weekend. He arrived 30 minutes before the 10:30 a.m. auction, where he was promptly told his passport was expired and they needed a letter from his bank. This was a problem! Davidoff puts in the type of preparation—filling out Excel sheets and scouring over a thousand lots—that’s typically only possible with an Adderall prescription. Now, it seemed all that groundwork might have been for naught. Luckily, the head of the department walked by and vouched for Davidoff. 

[PATEK] Caption: A Patek Philippe that inspired the opposite of a bidding war between Davidoff and the auctioneer at Antiquorum.

👨‍⚖️ Davidoff went into the weekend with roughly 40 targets. He got blown out on several, including a few Audemars Piguet skeletonized perpetual calendars. “My mom always tells me, ‘If somebody is willing to pay much more than you at an auction, it means that you still have good taste,’ ” he said. 

He had better luck at Antiquorum. Let’s set the scene. 

Towards the end of the first session, a Patek Amagnetic (literally a watch that isn’t affected by magnetism) came up for auction. The auctioneer started the bidding at 55,000 francs… crickets. Davidoff pounced in the absence of any action. He asked if he could take it at 55,000 francs—typically a bid needs to be a step above what the house initially sets the floor at—unwittingly grinding the entire auction to a halt. 

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