Wristwatches were originally worn for the sole purpose of telling the time. However, it has slowly been replaced by digital watches and smart watches. Despite this, classy timepieces are still worn as a status symbol and not just as a fashion statement. Brand new watches could be priced as low as a few hundred dollars to those as expensive as $1.5 million, which are even more costly than an ordinary house and lot or SUV. What makes a watch’s price soar higher than a rocket ship sent to space is not its functionality or whether it is fully encrusted with diamonds, but its rarity, history and the story it tells.
Here are some of the watches that tell a great story. These make them the most expensive auctioned watches.
10 Patek Philippe Henry Graves Jr. watch
Henry Graves Jr. was the son of an elite banker. He made millions in banking and railroads and was passionate about collecting watches. This watch is an 18-karat yellow gold Tonneau Minute Repeating Wristwatch. He had a private collection of the best designs of Philippe Patek watches. This is quite a unique item since this is the only yellow gold watch of this kind with the family’s coat of arms. The platinum model is housed in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. The watch was sold at a Sotheby's auction in June 2012 for a price of $2.99 million.
9 1954 Patek Philippe platinum perpetual calendar wristwatch
A perpetual watch is a watch that does not have to be adjusted 5 times a year to maintain its accuracy. This type of watch automatically adjusts itself. Although Abraham-Louis Breguet invented this technology in the year 1747, it wasn’t a common sight. The fact that the watch is only one of the two platinum perpetual calendar wristwatches created from 1941-1980 makes it a rare piece of jewelry. It features the original inventor, Berguet’s numerals and style markers that are hard enameled. The fact that only two of this kind exists all over the world gives it a $3.1 million price tag.
8 Patek Philippe 18-carat, white gold chronograph wristwatch
Another from the Patek Philippe watchmakers is an 18-carat, white gold, chronograph wristwatch. This was especially made for a very important patron of the Patek Philippe Company in 1928, the year of the historic stock market crash in the U.S. It is the only known design that has single button chronograph plated in white gold. The fact that it comes from the Patek Philippe brand also helps in the price’s appraisal. The vertical positioning of the registers and the Breguet numerals give an added class to the watch. It was auctioned at Christie’s on May 2011 at a price of $3.6 million.
7 Patek Philippe World Time
Antiquorom, a leading auctioneer of vintage and modern high-end timepieces, was able to sell a Patek Philippe World Time in April 2002 for $4.03 million. Despite being a low-key type of watch compared to other watches that were auctioned from this brand, it still managed to turn heads and earn a hefty sum. This watch has 24 time zones, including its home time zone. The watch’s chassis is made entirely of platinum. Its leather strap also adds to its classy finish.
6 Patek Philippe stainless steel perpetual calendar wristwatch
This Patek Philippe watch is a one-of-a-kind stainless steel perpetual calendar wristwatch. It has Arabic numerals, with phases of the moon, and a magnetic balance. Its 18 jewels, silvered matte dial, black painted feuille hands, subsidiary dials that indicates the phases of the moon, day and month windows, and nickel finished lever movement add to its price tag of $4.1 million.
5 A Breguet & Fils chronograph with two movements
This fine 18k gold precision watch with two movements signed Breguet et Fils was sold to a Mr. Garcias of London in August, 1814 for 5,000 Francs. Almost two centuries later, the clock was auctioned and sold for an immense price of $4.7 million in May 2012. What made the watch so expensive was its recent discovery and the fact that it was handcrafted by the pioneering horologist that changed the technology of watch making. The watch came from the private collection of a European family.
4 Patek Philippe White Gold Calibre 89
If you were thinking that a watch just displays the time and date, then you have not seen the Patek Philippe Calibre 89 yet. This watch is a commemorative pocket watch made in 1989. This was declared as “The Most Complicated Watch” by Patek Philippe. It contains 18 features that take time-telling into a complex level. Features include split second hand, time of sunset, day of the month, moon phase display, thermometer, and other features that you would not normally see on an average watch. The functionality is just one part of its price tag. What it is made of is another story. With all these factors, the watch was sold for $5 million in 2004.
3 Yellow Gold Calibre 89
This watch is made of 18 karat that is 75% gold. The rarity of the item also contributed to its staggering price. There are only four of its kind and in different materials: one in gold, one in white gold, one in rose gold and one in platinum. The watch was sold at Antiquorum in Geneva for $5.2 million in 2009.
2 Patek Philippe 18-carat gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch
This Patek Philippe includes some luxury features such as an 18-karat gold chassis, gold Arab numerals and a silvered matte dial, 23 gemstone instruments, a tonneau-shaped case, a 37 mm dial, date and moon phase indicators, and railway track design minute markings. The watch was sold for $5.7 million at Christie's in May 2010.
The most expensive watch in the world was made by Patek Philippe for the banker, Henry Graves, Jr. Henry Graves entered into a friendly competition with James Ward Packard, the famous automobile manufacturer. Packard was able to commission the making of the world’s most complicated timepiece in the world in 1927. However, 5 years later, Graves was able to surpass this by acquiring the Super-complication which has 24 functions that took 3 years to create. It was sold at Sotheby in 1999 for $11 million.
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