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Auctions Sylvester Stallone's Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Leads New York Auction Week

Previewing Sly's "door knockers" and a whole lot more.


Sylvester Stallone's Patek Philippe Grand Master Chime ref. 6300G, along with a few other watches from his collection, are being sold by Sotheby's in New York this week, and any self-respecting report of this week's auctions should probably lead with this fact. It's Patek's most complicated watch (20 complications) and the first to ever appear at auction. And it comes from Stallone, a real A-lister and certified watch guy probably most known for his relationship with Panerai.

It's also a coup for Sotheby's, who brought over Stallone after he sold a few watches through Phillips in 2020. It's a cool story, and Stallone speaks eloquently on YouTube about all the watches he's selling via Sotheby's and how a random encounter with Gregg Allman (of the Allman Brothers) got him hooked on watches. In the video, Stallone shows the 6300G still in its seal, and some have raised an eyebrow at the fact that he never wore it.

sylvester stallone grandmaster chime patek

Stallone's Grandmaster Chime, est. $2.5–5 million leads Sotheby's New York sale this week and is one of a number of Sly's watches in the auction. 

"I bought this as a collector," Stallone says in the video. "I treat it the way you'd treat a painting… it's a work of art." Would it have been badass to see Rambo wearing around a 6300? You bet. But I'm not gonna knock the guy for never wearing a watch, and not just because Sly's neck is probably thicker than my arms. His story feels like it comes from a place of passion – having been closely associated with watches for 30 years, no doubt he's developed a love for these things.

Anyway, Stallone is a mega-movie action star, and he's also selling a Nautilus 5711/1300A (that's the green dial with diamonds) and a few other watches. He calls his chunky Panerai, Rolex, and Patek watches "door knockers" – a term I find immediately endearing – and since my tastes are decidedly more wimpy, I also wanted to talk about a few of my favorite watches across the New York sales this week, along with one "buyer beware."

The First Rolex Oyster Chronograph

Let's stay at Sotheby's for a couple watches that would probably fit best on Stallone's pinky finger. The Rolex Zerograph is important for a bunch of reasons. It was the first Oyster chronograph, the first Rolex with a rotating bezel, and the first with an in-house chronograph movement.

It's also one of the rarest finds in all of vintage Rolex, with less than 10 having ever surfaced. Even better, this one comes fresh to market, recently discovered in California. Not a lot is known about the Zerograph – they're thought to have been prototypes, which would explain why they're not in catalogs or ads. A super cool piece of Rolex history, all packed into just 32mm. 

Sotheby's has an estimate of $50–100,000 on this ref 3346, but for reference, another example was sold at Monaco Legend for €266,500.

Super Early Patek Philippe 96 In Steel
patek 96 sector dial calatrava
patek 96 sector dial calatrava

From an important piece of Rolex history to one from Patek. Most already know the Ref. 96 Calatrava as the first Calatrava and the first serially produced watch from Patek. It's even known as "the watch that saved Patek," if we want to get dramatic about it.

The 96 was produced for almost 40 years, but the first series is distinguishable because they used a tiny LeCoultre ebauche that Patek had initially ordered for pendant watches. Because of the Great Depression, some of these movements sat unused for years until Patek fit them in their first Calatrava.

This watch was sold in 1936 and uses one of those JLC movements. Even better, it's in steel and has its beautiful, original sector dial. It's about as attractive and rare as it gets for a 96. Like the Zerograph, it comes from the family of the original owner and is about as small as one of Stallone's fingernails. 

This 96 has an estimate of $30,000–50,000, but also, like the Zerograph, it's hard to predict where it might end up. It's important, rare, and beautiful. But it's also small, niche, super old, a little beat up, but original. In other words, everything I love in a vintage watch. 

Speaking of, there's one more small watch with provenance to mention: a tiny square Cartier with beautiful enamel inlay on the case that was given to American General John Pershing, consigned directly from the Pershing family. There's this urban legend that General Pershing received the first-ever Cartier Tank directly from Louis Cartier in 1918, but there seems to be little evidence that was actually true. So here it is: The Pershing Cartier (est. $20–50,000). 

toledano and chan b1 sotheby's

General Pershing's Cartier from 1917 with enamel inlay on the case (est. $25–50k); the unique Toledano & Chan B/1 being auctioned, est. $6,000-12,000

Sotheby's is also auctioning a unique version of the Toledano & Chan B1 that the new brand introduced just last month. Made with a carbon fiber case flecked with copper, it has an estimate of $6,000–12,000.

Philippe Dufour Duality

Let's pop down to Phillips because their headliner is one of the best modern watches from an independent watchmaker, a Philippe Dufour Duality.

Introduced in 1996, the Duality was the first wristwatch to have a double escapement using two independent balance wheels. Theoretically, this makes for a more accurate watch as the balances average out their rates. Just a few years later, it inspired Journe to revisit his Resonance, which he released at the turn of the century. 

Originally, Dufour planned on making 25, but because the Duality is so hard to make, assemble, and adjust, he only made nine. If you really wanna know how it works, we've got you

Phillips sold two other Duality examples in 2022 (pink gold, $4 million) and in 2017 (No. 00, platinum, $915,000). This example is white gold and also comes with an additional lacquer dial and Breguet hands. Est. $800,000 to $1.6 million.

Also in the land of indies, the Hajime Asaoka Tourbillon prototype No. 0 is an insane watch that should pass its estimate of $120–240,000. 

There are a few other random watches I enjoyed seeing in the Phillips catalog that, while not headliners, I thought worthy of a postscript:

First is the Roger Dubuis Hommage Condottieri (lot 78, est. $20,000–40,000). I wrote about this watch last year, and it might be the best Dubuis ever made. Basically, take everything you know about and associate with modern Roger Dubuis and picture the exact opposite – that's what the Hommage Condottieri is. Enamel dial, Bulletin D'Observatoire, Geneva Seal. I could go on about it, and indeed, I already have, so check out this article if you want more.

There's also a Reverso Minute Repeater, a limited edition from 1994. Beginning with the Reverso's 60th anniversary in 1991, JLC introduced a run of six limited edition Reversos with each of six "traditional complications" through the rest of the decade, all limited to 500 pieces. This minute repeater is an excellent size, with a movement by watchmaker Eric Coudray. I keep meaning to do a complete story about this run of '90s Reversos – consider yourself warned!

heuer seafarer abercrombie chronograph

A Heuer Seafarer retailed by Abercrombie at Phillips NY (est. $15–30k) that last sold in 2017 (Christie's, right). 

I dunno, I figured I'd include this Heuer Seafarer retailed by Abercrombie (lot 102, est. $15–30,000) after realizing I remembered it from Christie's 2017 American Icons sale (the sale where Jackie Kennedy's Tank sold). Anyway, back then, it sold for $60,000. This time around, Phillips has a conservative estimate of $15,000–30,000. There are a lot of watches across the NY sales that you can trace the sale history of, but these Seafarers are awesome and don't get enough love – I hope this one does well. 

ulysse nardin split seconds vintage

Absolute mammoth UN split seconds from 1915 (52mm), est. $40–80k at Phillips

Finally, if big, bad, old split-seconds chronographs are your thing, this Ulysse Nardin split seconds from 1915 is an absolute beast. It's a 52mm wristwatch with a high-grade pocket watch movement with Guillaume balance wheel inside. Importantly, it's not a pocket watch that was re-cased as a wristwatch (ew!). It's one of just two known, the other in steel – drool – and if you're one of those people who thinks something like a Universal Geneve Cairelli split seconds is the ultimate in vintage chronography, it might be time to reconsider. 

A Quick Drive By On This Patek 1578GM ("General Motors")

The story of the Patek Philippe 1578GM is one of my favorite in vintage watches. Throughout the '50s, about 20 Pateks were given to big-time General Motors execs, typically for 25 years of service. It might even be the only example of Patek adding a company's name to a reference number and commissioning a watch like this. The Wenger case has angular downturned lugs, but the 1578GM is set apart from a stock 1578 thanks to its black dial and radial Arabic numerals. Only a dozen or so have ever appeared – a few years ago, I went through the brain damage of documenting all the publicly-sold examples.

patek 1578gm

A Patek "1578GM" at Christie's this week, beside an example that Christie's sold back in 2012 with what is generally accepted as the correct dial. 

Anyway, I was excited to see what looked like a Patek 1578GM at Christie's this week, but at second glance, it's more of a buyer beware. While the dial is black, it doesn't look like what's generally accepted as a legit and original 1578GM dial. Note, in particular, the different small-seconds layout and the stick hands (usually, the 1578GM has leaf hands). Over the years, I've seen a few stock 1578s trying to masquerade as the rarer (and more expensive) 1578GM, and this feels like another one of those. 

Worse yet, Christie's copy-pasted its lot description from the last (legit) 1578GM it sold back in 2017. Images for the current lot clearly show a caseback engraved "C.F. Kirkland." But the lot essay says, "The present watch belonged to Mr. K. P. Smith. The caseback of the watch reads GMC. GMOO, K.P. SMITH, 1934-1964." However, the 2017 example Christie's sold was K.P. Smith's, not this one. Whoops! 

This would just be an innocent little copy-paste mistake, but with a watch like the 1578GM that's driven by its history, it'd be helpful to have the story of the owner, a letter of provenance, or something (anything!) showing that this watch is what it says it is. For what it's worth, this doesn't look like an example of an auction house being nefarious but of being understaffed. 

richard mille rm56-02 sapphire tourbillon

The headliner at Christie's, a sapphire, skeletonized, RM56-02, est. $3-5 million. I hate that I don't hate it. 

Finally, I'm told top billing at Christie's is a Richard Mille Tourbillon Sapphire RM56-02 with an estimate of $3–5 million. It's a limited edition of just ten from 2015 that feels like one of the most RM RMs, and if you're asking yourself if you should spend your hard-earned millions on this or on Sly's Grandmaster Chime, then I think the only reasonable question is: why not both? 

Sotheby's Important Watches is June 5, with an online sale ending June 11; Phillips New York Watch Auction: X is June 8–9; Christie's Important Watches is June 10, with an online sale ending June 14.