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Editorial - Can a Patek Philippe beat a Ferrari?

Editorial Can a Patek Philippe beat a Ferrari?

A unique Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 and a unique Ferrari 812 Superfast are up for auction in aid of the Children Action charity tonight. But which is likely to fetch more?

The Ferrari 812 Superfast is the fastest and most powerful Ferrari ever built. Its base price is a cool £262,963. The Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5524 is a pilot travel time watch produced by one of the world’s foremost high-end watch brands and retails for 42,000 Swiss francs in its gold-cased versions. 

It’s difficult to compare the two. Apart from being stand-out products in their respective industries, they have little in common in terms of functions or price. The Patek Philippe costs a thousand Swiss francs per millimetre of its case diameter, the Ferrari £323.84 per horsepower in its V12 engine. 

One thing that they do have in common, however, is that unique versions of each will be going under the hammer at the Children Action charity auction by Christie’s in Geneva tonight. The Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 has a “T” appended to its reference, indicating that it is a unique version of this pilot’s watch in titanium. This is all the rarer given that Patek Philippe’s use of titanium, or indeed any non-precious metal, is extremely rare. The last unique piece Patek Philippe in titanium was a Ref. 5208T, also sold at a charity auction, Only Watch 2017, for 6.2 million Swiss francs. This is just one of several record-breaking prices achieved by watches at auction in recent years, along with the ultimate record-holder, the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, which sold for an unbelievable 17 million US dollars last year. When I discussed the potential of the Patek Philippe at the sale with John Reardon, Christie’s Head of Watches, International, during the Horology Forum in London last month, he admitted hearing rumours that the watch could fetch up to a million Swiss francs. This tallies with the past two Children Action auctions, where the Patek Philippe models sold for a million… Swiss francs for the Ref. 5131J-013 in 2012 and US dollars for the Ref. 5396T-010 in 2015. 

But could the Patek Philippe beat the Ferrari? There is a precedent at auction for the 812, but it is for a 1:2 scale wind tunnel model, that was sold by Sotheby’s last year for 600,000 euros. Given that this lot was half the production vehicle’s size and lacked one crucial component – the 812 horsepower V12 engine – one would hope that a unique version of 812 with Scuderia Ferrari personalisation by the company’s tailor-made department would fetch much more. It comes finished in Rosso F1, Ferrari’s signature Formula 1 red, with an Italian tricolour strip on the bonnet together with the race number of SF71H, Ferrari’s 2018 race car. It will also be signed by the drivers of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team and handed over to the lucky buyer at next year’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

Unusually, there are no estimates – either lower or upper - for this auction. Mr Bernard Sabrier, founder of the Children Action charity, says it has always been this way for the 13 years that Patek Philippe has been supporting the auction. So with the right bidders in the room or on the phones, anything could happen. 

 At the end of the evening, the generosity of all those bidding on these lots, plus other lots including a selection of fine wines, fine jewellery and a luxury cruise, will no doubt have contributed a few million Swiss francs in aid of a worthwhile charity that has educated over 10,000 adolescents in Switzerland as part of its suicide-prevention activities and runs 13 different projects across eight countries. 

The brand

Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.

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