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Sotheby’s ‘Rough Diamonds’ Auction Sells Out in Record Time

Geneva—Last week in Geneva, Sotheby’s celebrated an exceptional triumph as all 24 lots featured in its “Rough Diamonds” auction were swiftly snapped up by eager buyers in less than an hour, the prestigious auction house revealed.

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The “Rough Diamonds” event, a collaboration between Sotheby’s and the innovative creative collective heist-out, showcased an eclectic array of distinctive and avant-garde timepieces. The watches, predominantly hailing from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, were presented as part of a groundbreaking “gender-free” concept sale, hosted in an unconventional setting—the subterranean wine cellar of Geneva’s La Corne à Vin event venue.

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Following three days of public display, the auction took place on Thursday evening, with bidding escalating swiftly and fervently. Ultimately, the sale amassed an impressive total of 1.13 million Swiss francs ($1.3 million), exceeding expectations with 15 of the 24 lots surpassing their highest pre-sale estimates.

Josh Pullan, the global head of Sotheby’s luxury division, expressed his satisfaction with the event’s outcome, stating, “‘Rough Diamonds’ was conceived with the aim of offering collectors a concept watch sale that truly resonated. Tonight’s results, with all 24 lots finding enthusiastic buyers from diverse backgrounds, underscore the success of this vision, which we shared with our dedicated creative partners, heist-out.”

Pullan further highlighted the remarkable performance of certain standout pieces, particularly emphasizing the appeal of non-conformist and boldly eccentric timepieces showcased in a distinctive context. Notably, the Gilbert Albert-designed Patek Philippe, recognized as the most idiosyncratic and extravagant lot in the auction, emerged as the top-selling item, reinforcing the evident appetite among buyers for unique and unconventional designs.

Despite the unconventional nature of many timepieces featured, it was a familiar name that claimed the spotlight as the auction’s highest-grossing lot. A bidder secured a remarkable bracelet watch, ring, and necklace ensemble designed by Swiss jeweler Gilbert Albert for Patek Philippe in 1962, fetching CHF 393,700 ($435,727)—almost eight times its highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 50,000 ($55,253). Crafted from 18-karat yellow gold embellished with enamel and pearls, the set captivated buyers with its timeless elegance and craftsmanship.

Following closely behind was Audemars Piguet’s “Cobra Royal Khanjar” from 1985, renowned for its distinctive snake-like bracelet. The sleek white gold watch exceeded expectations, selling for CHF 165,100 ($182,724), surpassing its highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 100,000.

Completing the auction’s top three highlights was another remarkable creation from Audemars Piguet, designed in 1985 by Jacqueline Dimier, the brand’s esteemed head of product design from 1975 to 1999. This unique timepiece, shaped like a green car and adorned with emeralds and diamonds, captured the imagination of bidders, ultimately selling for CHF 107,950 ($119,474), exceeding its highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 80,000 ($88,382).

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