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Patek Philippe watch sells for US$31m in record auction

[GENEVA] A Patek Philippe timepiece sold for US$31 million, the highest price for a wristwatch in auction, at a charity sale run by Christie's in Geneva.

The steel Grandmaster Chime went under the hammer after a 5-minute bidding war in a packed room of more than 300 people. The watch beat the previous record, set by a Daytona Rolex that once belonged to Paul Newman. That piece fetched US$17.8 million in 2017.

The Patek Philippe has two dials (one on the back) and 20 special functions. It was sold Saturday in an event called Only Watch in which watchmakers offer one-of-a-kind timepieces to raise money for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Record auction prices for watches have been accelerating in recent years: in 2010 the highest was $5.7 million. Only Watch was founded in 2005 by Luc Pettavino, former chief executive officer of the Monaco Yacht Show. His son died of muscular dystrophy.

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Christie's is holding its annual auction of watches Monday in Geneva, and at the end of this month will offer a rare 1950s Patek in Hong Kong. It has an estimate of as much as US$14 million.