Some lucky (and super rich) fancier of fine timepieces will soon be able to add the ultimate trophy to his collection. The world’s most famous watch, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, is going to be up for auction and is expected to bring $15 to $20 million—or more. Why is this watch so coveted and expensive?
This iconic pocket watch is the product of a friendly competition between two moguls to produce the most complicated timepiece in the world. New York City banker Henry Graves Jr. and automobile magnate James Ward Packard shared an interest in the micro-techniques of watch making. The result was the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication which was commissioned in 1925 and finally delivered in 1933. Given the specs of this watch, it’s easy to see why Graves won the bet.
The Graves watch has been called the “Holy Grail” of collectible timepieces, becoming more valuable every time it comes up for sale. The current owner purchased the watch for $11 million from a Sotheby’s auction back in 1999, a record at the time, and is now ready to sell.
The new owner will be getting a rare treasure, since the Graves watch held the record for the most complicated timepiece in the world until Patek Philippe released the Calibre 89 to celebrate the watchmaker’s 150th anniversary in 1989. The Calibre has 33 complications to the Graves’s 24.
This one-of-a-kind timepiece sports a host of features like perpetual calendar, minute repeater, phases and age of the moon, alarm, sidereal time, split-second chronograph, sunrise and sunset indicators, equation of time, chimes and a celestial map of the New York City sky.
Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Philippe North America, released this statement about the brand’s masterpiece of the watchmaking art: “The Graves is a milestone for Patek Philippe and it’s an iconic achievement in our watchmaking production. You look at all the complications it has and it’s amazing that they did all that without computers. You are talking about one of the most collectible pieces ever put up for auction, if not the most collectible. Visually, and from an engineering standpoint, it’s amazing. You can’t help but just stare and marvel at what it is and what it represents. It’s another reason for celebration in an already meaningful 175th anniversary year for Patek Philippe.”
Daryn Schnipper, chairman of Sotheby’s International Watch Division, was equally enthusiastic about the prospect of working with the Graves. “I carried it back from Chicago in 1999, and when I held this watch in my hand, I could feel its beating heart. This is a force in the watch industry and it feels so perfect, it reaches your nerve endings. When you finally see the Mona Lisa, you are blown away by it, and the sensation of the Graves is like this. It is one of the wonders of the world.”
The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication will go up for auction in November at Sotheby’s.