Sotheby’s, New York,
10 December 2014
Sold for $55,000
We’ve mentioned the affect on value of condition, rarity and variation before – but the collecting market is so fickle that it is often difficult to predict just what will or won’t achieve a strong price. Such was the case with this Rolex Ref. 8171 triple calendar moon phase watch which was a unique example of a model widely regarded as being highly collectable.
In December 2013, a truly immaculate, steel-cased 8171 with a champagne dial and diamond hour markers became the first Rolex to sell at auction in the US for more than $1 million – which might lead one to assume that the one offered by Sotheby’s, the first to be seen with a black dial and gilt moonphase, would have soared way beyond its $40,000 – $60,000 estimate.
In the event, it changed hands for a hammer price of around $44,000 which, with buyer’s premium added, came to $55,000. The sum demonstrates the expertise of the Sotheby’s specialists – and the fact that, even though the dial of this watch was “most likely refurbished by Rolex more than 40 years ago”, the current market demands originality and certainty in exchange for a record price. “Most likely” just isn’t good enough.