It's hard to say whether there is any practical use for a watch anymore. The world has changed and now people have these things called smartphones that they never put away and have clocks on them. Think about the last time you asked someone if they had the time, did they look at their wrist or did they quickly reach into their pocket and pull out a phone quicker than an 1800's gunslinger? Be honest. No, forget that, when's the last time you asked someone for the time? You have a smartphone, you have the necessary technology.
Either way, the watch is now a fashion statement, rather than a practical tool for time management and situational awareness. The obvious exception is the smartwatch, whether the Apple product or otherwise. But when it comes to traditional watches, you know, the mechanical things that have hands, and can't order a pizza, they are purely fashion statements at this point.
You can get a watch at Wal-Mart that will look half decent, but anyone with a decent eye will see that you're wearing a mass-produced piece of garbage. There are plenty of great brands out there with pieces that range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousands. If your purpose in life involves mountain bikes or rock climbing, a bill or two can find you a watch that will accompany you to the depths of an ocean and can be run over by a truck (that may be an exaggeration).
But for those who want the Ferrari of watches, it will be more than a few thousands. Actually, it will be more than most Ferraris. Here is our list of the most expensive watches on the planet right now. Get ready for the kind of unnecessary jewelry and frivolity that might make MC Hammer say, "hmmmm, I think I'll save my cash instead".
15 Patek Philippe 1953 Heures Universelles Ref 2523 - $2,900,000
The company Patek Philippe is a name you are used to if you like fine watches and jewelry, and a name with which you will become familiar as you read through this article. The company is over 160 years old and for the employees and former leaders of the company, watchmaking isn't just a science, it is also an art and a way of life.
The least impressive of the Patek Philippe watches on our list is also our number fifteen entry. With that said, it's worth more than some city blocks. The dial of this gem is polychrome and enamel, and features a diagram of North America. It also features plenty of time zones and a case made of 18 karat gold. In 2006 it sold for just under $3 million at auction.
14 Piaget Emperador Temple - $3,300,000
Piaget SA is a Swiss watchmaking and jeweler company considered to produce jewelry and watches of extremely high quality. This unique piece was sold a few years ago for $3.3 million and features just under 700 diamonds along with a dial that is made of nacre (mother of pearl). This watch is the epitome of "shiny, sparkly things" and sold very shortly after it was declared for sale.
13 Patek Philippe 1928 Single Button Chronograph and Patek Philippe Ref 2499 "Eric Clapton" - $3,600,000
We featured two watches in this entry because they were produced by the same company and sold for the same amount. The 1928 chronograph features 18 karat white gold, 28 jewels and as with most of the watches on this list, the majority of the visible parts are made of various precious metals.
Eric Clapton's Patek Philippe was sold for $3.6 million in 2012 and has a chronograph, indicates moon phases and has a perpetual calendar. The watch is decorated with most of the parts being made with precious metals and of course 23 jewels.
12 Patek Philippe 5004T - $3,985,000
Patek Philippe discontinued the Reference 5004 series of watches ages ago, but brought it back for a piece that was sold at auction in 2013. The 5004T was sold for just under $4 million and is encased in titanium. It is a complication watch, and has a calendar, has a twelve hour chronograph and measures the phases of the moon. The 5004T is considered one of the "sportier" pieces ever created by Patek Philippe but given the work ethic and name attached to it, it was still seen as the prize feature of The Only Watch auction two years ago.
11 Patek Philippe Platinum World Time - $4,000,000
This watch was created and assembled back in the late 1930's, and was unveiled in 1939. There isn't a whole lot of history that is known with regard to this watch. What we do know is that only one was ever made. It was sold shortly after that and essentially disappeared, only to surface around the turn of the century. In 2002 it was reportedly sold for just over $4 million.
10 Louis Moinet Meteoris - $4,600,000
Known as an artist as well as a watchmaker, Louis Moinet lived in Paris, France for most of his life and is credited with inventing the chronograph. The brand associated with his name to this day is known as a maker of the finest watches in the world. Though they have relocated to Switzerland, they market themselves as carrying on the creativity and innovation of Moinet himself.
The Meteoris is a set of four "tourbillon" style watches (a method of watch assembly that counteracts the effect of gravity on the watch's internal mechanism, no, I don't understand exactly how it works). Each of these four contains material from Mars, an asteroid, the moon and a meteorite known as "Rosetta Stone". They must be purchased as a full set, which comes with a planetarium, pictured above.
9 Breguet & Fils Paris 2667 Precision - $4,680,000
Abraham-Louis Breguet was a Swiss horologist (fancy term for watch maker or clock specialist) who founded his own company back in the 1770s. We'll see more of his company later on. Breguet's company was handed down a few generations before the family no longer wanted to be in the watch business, and it eventually became the possession of watchmaker Edward Brown. The Brown family held onto it until the 1970's at which point it was passed around by a few larger companies. Finally Swatch bought it back in 1999.
One of the finest pieces to be created after Breguet took his son into his business, the 2667 Precision pocket watch.
8 Patek Philippe Calibre 89 - $5,000,000
The magnificent 1989 watch produced for the 150th anniversary of the company features two dozen hands, and over 1,700 individual pieces. It weighs a little over a kilogram and is considered the most complicated watch in the world. It has a star chart, moon phase display and a thermometer, for just a couple of examples of the complications this piece includes. It took over nine years of research and work to actually create this watch and only four were made. One was white gold, one yellow gold, one rose gold and one in platinum.
7 Hublot Big Bang Diamond - $5,000,000
Among the newer luxury watch creators out there, Hublot was founded by Italian watchmaker Carlo Crocco in 1980. The "Big Bang" series of watches has become one of his most successful. Widely considered one of the best new watches released in 2005, this watch has enjoyed partnerships with organizations such as UEFA, Ferrari, FIFA and a few professional sports teams. The edition sitting on our list has more than 1,280 diamonds and its most famous recipient was American rap legend and collector of all things nice and shiny, Jay-Z. Beyonce purchased it for him back in 2012.
6 Patek Philippe Reference 1527 - $5,700,000
This stunning watch stands as the most expensive of the wrist watches ever created by Patek Philippe. It was completed in 1943 and is an absolutely beautiful piece with a perpetual calendar, over 20 precious jewels along with 18 karat rose gold. Only one of these watches was ever made and it was sold a few years ago for $5,700,000. This watch is considered to be one of the models that future Patek Philippe watches are based on, and was originally estimated to sell for between one and two and a half million dollars.
5 Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication - $24,000,000
The highest valued of all watches created by Patek Philippe is the Supercomplication pocket watch. It took the company over three years to design, along with five years to assemble and was, in the 1930's the most advanced and complicated watch ever created.
This technological marvel was sold at auction in 1999 for $11 million, which stands as the record for a watch sold in an auction. In late 2014, it broke its own record, selling for just over $24,000,000.
4 Chopard 201 Carat - $25,000,000
Chopard is a Swiss jewelry company with a tradition of beautiful, luxurious creations that dates back to the 1800s. Around 2000 they unveiled this 201 karat piece of art which is worth about $25,000,000. It features over eight hundred diamonds of all shapes, sizes and colors. This watch also has a mechanism, which when pressed, opens up three large heart-shaped diamonds, one grey, one blue and one pink, to show off the watch face itself. The face is made of many tiny pave set yellow diamonds, which essentially means that these puny diamonds are placed to look like a flat surface underneath the hands.
3 Jaeger-LeCoultre Joaillene 101 Manchette - $26,000,000
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a Swiss company founded by Antoine LeCoultre back in the early 1830s. What started out as a tiny watchmaking shop run by a man with brilliant attention to detail has turned into one of the most highly regarded timepiece manufacturers in the world. While it looks like a bracelet, the watch part actually has the smallest mechanical movement in the world according to record books. Queen Elizabeth II wore a similar piece on the day of her coronation in 1953 and this edition of the same series of timepieces was the company's gift to her sixty years later.
While it is technically considered "priceless", estimates for its actual worth are around $26 million.
2 Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette - Estimated $30,000,000
Our second Breguet watch on this list is our number two and is named after its intended recipient, Marie Antoinette. A Swedish nobleman, Axel Von Fersen, had this watch made and requested that it be built with every known complication. Neither Abraham-Louis Breguet or Marie Antoinette lived to see the completed watch. It was finished in 1827, over three decades after the execution of Marie Antoinette and four years after Brequet's death. This watch is a legendary piece and sat in a museum in Jerusalem for ages, before being stolen in the 1980s and found again in the 2000s. The watch is valued at around thirty million dollars.
1 Graff Diamonds Hallucination - $55,000,000
Graff Diamonds is a jewelry company founded and based in London, England. They pride themselves on procuring only the highest quality diamonds and adhere to the United Nations Kimberley Process, ensuring that their pieces do not feature conflict diamonds. In 2014 they came out with the Hallucination. They consider it to be the most expensive watch in the world and claim that their jewelers and watch makers have spent thousands of hours putting this piece together. It features diamonds of many shapes and colors, and is a piece of which company founder Laurence Graff, is particularly proud. If your wife or girlfriend asks you for this, run.