“A masterpiece of horology”, “the “Holy Grail” of watches” and “the world’s most famous watch” are just a few of the superlatives being bandied around to describe a watch that Sotheby’s in Geneva is to put on sale for an estimated CHF 15 million in mid-November.
Made by Patek Philippe in 1933, it is claimed to be the most complicated watch completely made by human hand. According to Sotheby’s, it was last sold in 1999 (also by Sotheby’s). and set a world record of $11 million which has held until today.
More interesting than the mere price is its history. In 1925, Patek Philippe was commissioned by Henry Graves, a prominent New York banker, to produce the most complicated watch in the world. The product of three years of research and five years’ effort by the most skilled technicians, this extraordinary timepiece is a gold openface minute repeating chronograph clockwatch with Westminster chimes. Among the features it incorporates are a perpetual calendar, moon phases, sidereal time, power reserve, and indications for time of sunset and sunrise and the night sky of New York City. With a total of 24 horological complications, The Graves watch retained the title of the world’s most complicated watch for 56 years and even then it has only been surpassed by technicians working with the aid of computer-assisted machines.