At an auction in Geneva in 2011, a Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication became the world’s most expensive timepiece when the hammer fell for an astounding $24,000,000.
Patek Philippe watches dominate any list of the world’s most valuable timepieces and just last year, a stainless steel 1518 became the most expensive wristwatch in the world when it sold for triple the original estimates at a massive £7.7m.
That still came nowhere close to the record that the pocket watch Supercomplication had set back in 2011 though. For its time, and long after it was completed, it was the world’s most complicated timepiece with a total of 24 different “complications” (functions).
It held the title of the most complicated until 1989 when Patek Philippe outdid themselves and produced an even more complicated pocket watch known as the Calibre 89, which boasted an almost unthinkable 33 complications.
To give you a bit of an insight into the parts a piece like this consists of, it features 24 hands, two dials, 61 bridges, 129 jewels, 184 wheels, 332 screws, 415 pinions, 429 mechanical components and a grand total of 1,728 components!
In regards to the complications that all these components come together to make up, you’ll find a tourbillon escapement, rattrapante chronograph, perpetual calendar, equation of time and an astronomical sun hand, as well as a unique calendar that displays the date of Easter every year, to name but a few.
The pocket watch was unveiled in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe’s 150-year anniversary and at the time, it was the world’s most complicated watch, a record that it held for 26 years before Vacheron Constantin created the mind-blowing 57260 which features a nearly unthinkable 57 complications.
The original Caliber 89 was made in yellow gold, followed by three other pieces, in rose gold, white gold and platinum delivered nine years later. Sotheby’s is offering the original yellow gold version at an auction in Geneva on May 14.
It is 88.2mm wide and 41.07mm thick, and its functions are driven by three mainspring barrels. The Caliber 89 will be exhibited by Sotheby’s in Dubai from March 14-18 and in Hong Kong March 31-April 4 before heading to the auction in Geneva on May 14, with an estimate of $6.4-million to $9.9-million.
We will have to wait and see as to whether the Caliber 89 will break records to become the most expensive timepiece ever sold but with Patek Philippe seeming to be the most likely to even come close to breaking them, and with such a unique piece on offer, who knows?
Here at William George & Co. we frequently host luxury watch auctions featuring brands like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Breitling and more.