Patek Philippe’s ‘Pink-on-Pink’ Reference 1518—considered one of the most important vintage watches in the world—will lead Sotheby’s Important Watches auction in New York City June 9. It’s estimated to sell for a stunning $2.5-$4.5 million.
The Reference 1518 represents the first Patek perpetual calendar chronograph, and went on to influence the design language of “every model that succeeded it from almost any brand that attempted to create one,” according to a prepared statement from Sotheby’s.
Only 281 Reference 1518 timepieces were created, and only 58 examples are believed to have been cased in pink gold. But the funnel gets smaller still: only 15 examples of the reference feature a pink gold case with a matching salmon pink gold dial are known to exist in the world. These are known as “Pink-on-Pink” Reference 1518s. The timepiece going up for auction is one of these, and was only recently discovered. It will be the first time it’s been sold since is original sale in 1947.
“The reason for it laying dormant, as it has remained in the possession of its original family since its purchase in 1947, was its being hidden in a drawer, untouched for 30 years,” said Sotheby’s senior vice president and senior watch specialist Jonathon Burford, in the same statement. “To unearth a previously unknown, undiscovered, and vintage watch from a single owner in such remarkable condition is the stuff of dreams for vintage Patek Philippe collectors—a ‘holy grail’ watch so to speak.”
Patek Reference 1518s have been chased by some of the most famous watch collectors in the world, including Henry Graves Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson, who have both owned examples. Patek Philippe 1518s have also passed through royal hands: the former ruler of Romania, King Michael I, the King of Jordan, and Egypt’s penultimate ruler, King Farouk I, all owned examples of the timepiece.
There’s a recent price precedent for the watch—one that suggests this recently discovered example sell for much higher than its (already mind-blowing) estimate. In 2021, Sotheby’s sold another Reference 1518, previously owned by Prince Tewfik of Egypt, for $9.6 million. The hammer price shattered pre-sale estimates more than four-fold, and set a world auction record for a wristwatch at Sotheby’s; that sale still stands as the third highest price ever achieved for any vintage wristwatch sold at auction.