Ladies and gents, the Big Kahuna, the 800 pound gorilla, the elephant in the room – and it’s only 36.8 mm in diameter. Funny things happen when Pateks in unusual metals show up at Only Watch (and other places). My heart goes out to folks who have to come up with estimates for these pieces; in 2011, a steel 3939 repeater went for $1.4 million, and two years later, a titanium 5004 went to $3,985,067, and if this keeps up we’re going to need to resort to exponential notation to report auction results. The watch you see above is a steel cased reference 5016A-010 – now, lest we forget, Patek enjoys the reputation it enjoys for some very good reasons and this is a gorgeous piece of ultra-classic watchmaking. What is, for better or worse, going to be on everyone’s mind, and lips, is pricing. The estimate on this one is $743,000 to $955,000, and it says a lot about how heavily collectors are betting on Patek – still – that this may be way too low. The titanium 5004 had a pre-auction estimate of €400,000 to 600,000, and at this level, really pretty much anything could happen; the very small group of clients for watches like this could be in a competitive mood; Patek could decide it wants it permanently, in which they will probably get it unless – I don’t know, Tim Cook decides he wants it too; it could fizzle (unlikely but possible), a time machine could appear in Geneva, and Thierry Stern XII could step out and pay in Federation credits; anything. One thing’s for sure, everyone will be watching – this has a much better than even chance to become the most expensive wristwatch ever made.
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