8 watches owned by F1 great Michael Schumacher fetch more than $4 million at auction in Geneva

GENEVA (AP) — Eight watches belonging to auto racing icon Michael Schumacher sold Tuesday for nearly 4 million Swiss francs ($4.4 million) at a Geneva auction.

The top piece in the sale, organized by Schumacher’s family, was a watch given to the German racing superstar by former Ferrari CEO Jean Todt as a Christmas present in 2004. The hammer came down at a price of 1.2 million francs, or 1.5 million including the buyer's commission.

That was well within the pre-sale estimate range of 1-2 million francs.

The custom-made platinum timepiece from F.P. Journe, the Vagabondage 1, features 18-carat white gold, a red watch face and images of a Ferrari logo, Schumacher’s racing helmet and a “7” — to honor his seven World Championship victories.

Remi Guillemin, head of watches for Europe and the Americas for auction house Christie's, declined to identify the buyer, but said that five watches in the Ruthenium collection — a boxed set — were purchased by the same buyer.

While most of the eight watches sold within the pre-sale estimates, an Audemars Piguet featuring a Ferrari prancing horse emblem, sold for a hammer price of 330,000 francs — well above the top of the expected range at 250,000.

The sale of Schumacher watches, which garnered a total of more than 3.1 million francs at the hammer price, was timed for the 30th anniversary of his first Formula One Drivers Championship win in 1994.

The watches, which were taken to New York and Taipei for showings before the sale, were part of a larger auction of luxury timepieces to go under the hammer on Tuesday at Christie’s in Geneva.

Schumacher, who retired from F1 in 2012, shares the record for most F1 titles with British driver Lewis Hamilton.

In December the following year, Schumacher fell while skiing in the French Alpine resort of Meribel and suffered a near-fatal brain injury.

Since being transferred from hospital in September 2014, he continues to be cared for privately at a family home in Switzerland.