Yesterday, at Sotheby’s New York, 100% of the 61 lots from the Collection of The Late Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr. and His Grandfather Henry Graves, Jr. – two of the finest private collections of watches ever assembled – sold for a remarkable $8,339,813 (well in excess the sale’s $4.5 million high estimate).
The auction was led by The Henry Graves, Jr. Yellow Gold Minute Repeating Wristwatch by Patek Philippe that sold for $2,994,500, soaring above its high estimate (est. $600,000-800,000). This watch is unique for being the only example made in yellow gold – its mate, made in platinum, is currently housed in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva – and it bears the iconic Graves Family arms, with the Latin motto Esse quam videri: “To be, rather than to seem”.
Born into a banking family in the United States, Henry Graves, Jr. (1868-1953) was most passionate about watches, and over the course of four decades beginning shortly before the start of World War I, he assembled the world’s most important collections of Patek Philippe in private hands. In December 1999, Sotheby’s New York sold “The Henry Graves Supercomplication” for a remarkable $11,002,500 – – a price that remains the worldwide record for any timepiece at auction. Mr. Graves left the majority of his spectacular watch collection to his daughter, who in turn passed the pieces to her son Pete Fullerton (1933-2012). Mr. Fullerton picked up his grandfather’s passion and connoisseurship, and assembled a collection of his own that is distinguished for the exceptional condition of each piece.
Yesterday’s ‘white glove’ auction featured 13 watches collected by Henry Graves, Jr. that have never before been published or appeared on the market, as well as a group of more than 40 wristwatches and clocks collected with incredible attention to condition and documentation by Reginald ‘Pete’ H. Fullerton.
Together with the remarkable result achieved by these two legendary collections, Sotheby’s spring auctions of watches and clocks concluded with a strong total of $14,802,067, exceeding their combined high estimate of $14.1 million and marking the highest total for a day of watch sales at Sotheby’s New York since 2004.