Every now and then, a timepiece is made that is so special and unique that even at the time of its creation, it secures its place in the history books. This statement is especially true for the Patek Philippe Supercomplication, commissioned and designed in 1925 to be the most complicated watch ever made.
At an auction in the Geneva branch of Sotheby’s, the Supercomplication has just been sold for a staggering £15 million, breaking its own record for the most expensive watch ever sold. It was last sold in 1999, when it reached a still impressive £7 million.
The watch’s story begins in 1925 when Patek Philippe was approached by the boating enthusiast and banker Henry Graves Junior.
His request was to create a watch that would be the most complicated one ever made. Patek Philippe crafted the watch entirely by hand and it soon found itself embroiled in a battle between Graves and his rival watch collector James Ward Packard. Each of the men had become engaged in fierce competition to purchase the most elaborate timepiece ever made.
The watch has 24 functions, one for each hour of the day. These include the ability to correctly display the night sky over Central Park in New York and playing the chimes of Big Ben. It is made up of 920 components, weighs over a pound and is 1.5 inches wide. Despite being ordered in 1925, the watch was not delivered until 1933, since its manufacture was so difficult and time consuming even for a master watchmaker such as Patek Philippe.
In the world of horology, a complication is a watchmaking term that means any function on a watch other than telling the time. Hence, by having a “complication” for every hour of the day, Graves could boast that his has more complications than any other ever made.
In recent times, watch collecting is becoming increasingly popular, with an increasing number of people seeking to purchase timepieces both as a luxury item and as an art object. As a result, they are now held in the same regard to statues and paintings.
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