Auctioneer Aurel Bacs is pictured above – in front of a packed audience at Phillips Game Changers in New York – just before dropping the hammer on lot 30, the Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675.
After an opening bid of $250K, followed by multiple large increment jumps, the bidding on Brando’s GMT-Master quickly exceeded $1 million. As it crept past a million, the pace eventually slowed down to as low as $10K increments. With only a few bidders remaining, the price still continued slowly rising, and then finally, after what must have been 10-15 minutes of back-and-forth, one of the two bidders bowed out, and the watch had finally sold. The hammer price was $1.61 million ($1.952 million with fees) – the record for a Rolex GMT-Master sold at auction.
The Urwerk AMC netted the highest figure at $2.9 million, which is a record auction price for the brand. The Urwerk was followed by a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 ($2.3 million), a Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 ($2.024 million), the Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 ($1.952 million), and the Jack Nicklaus Day-Date Ref. 1803 ($1.22 million). Game Changers ended up realizing $20.2 million in total.
Jack Nicklaus’ Rolex Day-Date achieved a strong result of $1.22 million, which numerically may not have been as exciting as some of the recent world-record sales such as Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona that sold for a staggering $17.8 million two years ago, or the stainless steel Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime that achieved over $30 million just last month. But at the end of the day, the number does represent the highest price ever realized at auction for a Rolex Day-Date. And all of that goes straight to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, which is a success, no matter how you look at it.