Culture / Newsy

Houston Watch Dealer Sells a Rare Patek Philippe for $1.8 million at Renowned Monaco Auction

Rob Chramosta of Vintage Contessa & Times Past Brings a World Famous Racing Star's Former Treasure to the Market For a Landmark Sale

BY // 04.21.24

It was a great day over the weekend for Houston-based luxury authenticator Rob Chramosta at the Monaco Legend Group’s Exclusive Timepieces Auction when a Patek Philippe watch once owned by world renowned racing star Sir Henry Segrave and Amelia Earhart sold for an astonishing $1,867,250.

The watch is one of five remaining Patek Philippe cushion-shaped, single-button designs in the world, two of which are located in the Patek Museum. The auction house, led by watch department chairman Davide Parmegiani, called this one of the most important vintage Patek Philippe watches to auction in recent memory.

8 Davide Parmegiani- chairman of Monaco Legend Group & Rob Chramosta wearinh watch
Monaco Legend Group chairman Davide Parmegiani with Houstonian Rob Chramosta and the Sir Henry Segrave Patek Philippe watch. (Courtesy photo)

According to the respected New York City based watch website Hodinkee: “The watch was specially ordered from Patek by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American business magnate who founded the London-based Selfridges department store, while on a skiing trip in St. Moritz in the winter of 1928/1929.

“Selfridge had been drawn into the magnetic hero status of Sir Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave, a massive celebrity in the era for his achievements in motorsports, especially speed records, and apparently ordered the watch with Segrave in mind. The watch was engraved on the back, commemorating their friendship.”

For many years, the watch was believed to have been worn by Amelia Earhart on her final flight due to the fact that Selfrige traded her the Segrave watch for a Longines that she had worn on her two record-breaking Transatlantic flights. However, that was actually not the case though Earhart had been photographed wearing the Patek at another time.

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Sir Henry Segrave on the day of his fatal accident, wearing the Patek Philippe. This photo was first found by @niccoloy on Instagram. Photo: Courtesy Monaco Legend Group

As noted by Dan Hodge on his blog 28DaysEarlier, the fact that Putnam claimed in his 1939 book (and Selfridge also believed) that Earhart was wearing the Selfridge/Segrave watch when she went missing in 1937. “Obviously, if that were the case, we wouldn’t have the watch seen here since her plane and body have never been recovered.”

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9. Rob & Donae Chramosta at monaco Lrgrnds Watch Auction
Rob & Donae Chramosta with the Sir Henry Segrave Patek Philippe watch that sold for $1.85 million at the Monaco Legend Group’s Exclusive Timepieces Auction. (Courtesy photo)

The watch spent more than 50 years with a United States collector and his family. When Chramosta came on as a partner, he leveraged his expertise, global contact database and guidance to help substantiate the prior ownership.

How did he connect with the owners? He was introduced to the watch owner family through a mutual friend in the industry who lives in proximity to the family on the West Coast.

“A big part of our success in the preowned luxury market is from the discretion we have with and for our buyers and sellers,” notes Chramosta, the founder and CEO of Vintage Contessa & Times Past.

The personal engraving on the Sir Henry Segrave Patek Philippe watch that sold for $1.85 million at the Monaco Legend Group’s Exclusive Timepieces Auction. (Photo courtesy of Monaco Legend Group)
The personal engraving on the Sir Henry Segrave Patek Philippe watch that sold for $1.85 million at the Monaco Legend Group’s Exclusive Timepieces Auction. (Photo courtesy of Monaco Legend Group)

“I have been buying and selling watches since I was 13 years old and this is by far the rarest piece I’ve ever sold,” Chramosta tells PaperCity. “Selling such a historic watch with a racing heritage in Monaco for over $1.8 million dollars is the dream of a lifetime.”

Interestingly, the watch has undergone two restorations. The first after it was pulled from the water following Segrave’s boat speed racing death and second when Rob Chramosta worked with industry associates to send the watch to Patek Philippe, bringing the watch into working mechanical condition. This watch is the only example of its kind with enameled Breguet numerals and tachymeter.

The Vintage Contessa & Times Past specializes in a unique collection of authentic, luxury pieces, including watches, diamonds, estate jewelry, rare coins, handbags and accessories. Founders Rob and Donae Chramosta have created a remarkable curated collection of luxury goods through global travel and an international reputation of unmatched expertise.

Each item sold is personally vetted by the couple and is backed by a 100 percent authenticity guarantee.

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