Auctions

‘Holy Grail’ of watches garners $24M

AuctionsFeb 07, 2016

‘Holy Grail’ of watches garners $24M

The Henry Graves Supercomplication, the most complicated watch ever made entirely by human hand, cemented its status as the most valuable watch in auction history when it sold for $24 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Tuesday. 

Geneva--The Henry Graves Supercomplication, the most complicated watch ever made entirely by human hand, cemented its status as the most valuable watch in auction history when it sold for $24 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Tuesday.


Sotheby’s said that five bidders competed for the Patek Philippe-made watch for 15 minutes before it sold to a private unnamed buyer.

With a total of 24 horological complications, the “Henry Graves Supercomplication” clockwatch is “the most famous watch in the world,” Sotheby’s said, also referring to it as the “Holy Grail” of watches.

In 1925, prominent New York banker Henry Graves commissioned Patek Philippe to produce the most complicated watch in the world. 

After years of research and effort, the Swiss watch company produced the Supercomplication in 1932. 

The gold open-face minute-repeating chronograph clockwatch features Westminster chimes, as well as a perpetual calendar, moon phases, sidereal time, power reserve and indications for time of sunset and sunrise, as well as an illustration of New York’s night sky.

It retained the title of the world’s most complicated watch for 56 years but, eventually, lost that title to watches produced by technicians working with the aid of computer-assisted machines. 

It still remains, however, the most complicated watch ever made completely by hand.

The watch was first sold in 1999 as part of Sotheby’s New York’s Time Museum sale, where it garnered $11 million and became the most expensive timepiece ever sold at auction.

On Tuesday, the Supercomplication went up for sale again as part of Sotheby’s Geneva’s Important Watches sale, which totaled $32.6 million. 

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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