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Most Expensive Watch Ever Sold at Auction: The Henry Graves Supercomplication $11 million

Alberto / June 14, 2013

Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe is considered by collectors the world over to be the gold standard as far as expensive and designer watches are concerned. The Swiss based watch maker has designed and manufactured some of the most complicated timepieces ever sold till date.

However, the one that takes the cake is “The Henry Graves Super Complication Watch”, a one of its kind gold coach watch that was auctioned off at Sotheby’s on December 1999 for a whopping sum of $11 million. It is the most expensive timepiece ever sold and this world record has stood the test of time till now.

The 18 carat gold watch encased within a 36 mm glass cover completely justifies its name and held the honor of being the most complicated timepiece in the world possessing the most number of complications till the year 1989. Experts considered it to be the most complicated timepiece of its time since it possessed an unmatched 24 complications. The functionality of the watch went well beyond basic timekeeping. Frills offered by the Patek Philippe classic were interesting functions like a chart of the night time prevalent sky over New York City complete with the magnitudes of the Milky Way and the stars and a minute repeater whose chimes mirrored the same melody played out by London’s Big Ben, a perceptual calendar, a different chronological function for each hour of the day and a two faced moon phase displaying the 24 separate complications.

The timepiece possesses a very interesting history. The pocket watch was created in 1933 on the special order of Mr. Henry Graves Junior, a New York banker who entered into a casual horological competition with his old friend for possessing the most complicated timepiece ever made. More than five years were spent on the design and manufacturing process of the watch which possesses 900 parts. The end result was a stunning, never before seen classic timepiece. Graves took possession of the watch in 1933 and it remained in his possession till his death. Seth G. Atwood’s Time Museum located in Rockford, Illinois was entrusted with the responsibility of safe keeping of the coveted item after Graves passed away. The timepiece remained in the possession of the museum till 1999. It then landed up at the New York based Sotheby’s auction house in the same year after the museum closed down where it managed to smash all records on its way to an astronomical final bid price of $11 million. Even though the identity of the successful bidder was not revealed for more than a decade, it has now emerged that a Qatari Royal, Sheik Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani was the man who put in the record bid. Current news reports indicate that the Qatari Sheik has again put the Patek Philippe watch under the hammer at Sotheby’s in order to raise money to pay off his debts.

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