Christie’s New York saw a superb finale to the 2012 watch auction season on December 14, with a stellar 341-lot sale of Important Watches, featuring the highly-anticipated Gordon Bethune Collection of Fifty Exceptional Vintage Wristwatches. The day-long sale realized a total of US$12,202,625 (£7,565,628/ €9,273,995) with solid sell-through rates of 94% by lot and 96% by value. This exceptional result, combined with robust results achieved in Christie’s New York watches auction in June, brings the 2012 New York watches total to over US$20.7 million. The global annual watches total for 2012 is expected to exceed US$126 million, marking Christie’s seventh consecutive year as leader of the watch auction market.
Six of the top ten watches in the sale were offered by former Continental Airlines CEO and Chairman Gordon Bethune, a noted watch collector for the last twenty years. Bethune pledged 50 of his finest watches to the sale at Christie’s, with five watches to be sold for the benefit of three charities he is actively involved with: The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and two United Airlines employee charities, the United We Care Employee Relief Fund and the United Scholarship Fund. Throughout the sale session, Bethune’s watches soared beyond their estimates, driven by intense competition from bidders in the room, on the phone, and online. At the close of the last lot, the collection had nearly doubled its low estimate, fetching $5,677,425 total, with a combined $2 million raised for the charities of Bethune’s choosing.