A watch owned by King Farouk of Egypt sold for more than Dh3 million at a Christie’s auction in Dubai on Friday, setting a new record for a watch sold in the Middle East.
The Patek Philippe 1518 watch was commissioned in 1945 by King Farouk, who was just 25 years old at the time. The leather-strapped timepiece features the phases of the moon and has a crowned F engraved on its 18 carat gold caseback.
An unidentified buyer bought it for $912,000 (Dh3,349,867) at a Jumeirah Emirates Towers ballroom, bidding by phone.
Another to catch the eye was the Rolex of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Sheikh Mohammed’s waterproof GMT-Master watch was custom made for him and features his signature, a red and blue bezel. It is believed to date from 1972, a year after the country was form. The stainless steel Rolex was expected to fetch between Dh440,000 and Dh588,000. It sold for more than Dh596,000.
When the watches' lot came up, bidding opened at hundreds of thousands of dirhams.
The auction of 191 watches fetched a total of more than Dh26.24 million in sales, according to a Christie’s executive.
A bidder from China described it as one of the most competitive auctions. “I am interested in buying unique watches showcased during the auction,” said the 27-year old bidder. “If I was lucky to get one of these watches, I will keep them and not consider selling them.”
The two telephone bidders who managed to secure the bids for the two most important watches, declined to reveal the names of those buying the watches.
Watch collecting has become increasingly popular in the Gulf, where young collectors wear watches as elegant accessories with the abaya and the kandora. In the Emirates, vintage watches have replaced diamond studded timepieces, coveted for their rarity. Christie’s has sold more than Dh973m in watches since it began its Important Watch auctions in Dubai in 2013. Revenue from Dubai’s vintage watch auction has doubled every year.
The 18k gold perpetual chronograph watch of the late King Farouk last four years ago in Geneva for Dh1.59 million.
King Farouk was just 16 years old when he was crowned king of Egypt and Sudan in 1936. Known for his lavish lifestyle, he was deposed in a military coup in 1952 at age 32 and forced into exiled.
His son, King Fuad II, was the last king of Egypt.