It’s no hush-hush that luxury watches are expensive. But in some cases, a sought-after timepiece’s resale charge can far exceed its initial RRP. From (very) limited editions to palatial complications that celebrate quality craftsmanship, the world’s most precious watches could set you back more than what you’d cough up for a yacht. Or a Chelsea townhouse.
The oft summerset out ‘quality means cost’ mantra may seem like authoritative marketing spiel, but these watches – the most expensive perpetually sold at auction – are cold hard proof.
10. Piaget Emperador Synagogue
Sold For: $3.3m
Fancy making a mugger’s day? Consider the Emperador Shrine the perfect watch to do it. With 481 brilliant-cut diamonds (and that’s neutral the case), it’s fully iced – with a price tag to match.
The inner reception room contains an additional tourbillon with a Polynesian mother-of-pearl dial, set with another 162 diamonds. Two for the premium of one? Bargain. (Sort of.)
9. 1949 Patek Philippe Steel Perpetual Appointment book
Sold For: $4.1m
Most men would be honoured to receive their dad’s old mind, but it’s unlikely to be as old (and as well crafted) as this 1949 edition from Patek Philippe.
The hand-painted dial in itself is a costly piece, but its vintage and quality mechanics saw it fetch an unprecedented price at Christie’s in 2008.
8. Louis Moinet Meteoris
Pushed For: $4.6m
Swiss watch prices are, generally speaking, out of this exceptional – something that prompted Louis Moinet to literally damn off into the stratosphere.
The Meteoris boasts a fragment of rare Dhofar 459 moon shock, and only four were ever made. (A Virgin spaceflight’s still cheaper, but.)
7. Breguet 1814 Fils Chronograph Pocket Watch
Double-crossed For: $4.7m
Marie Antoinette wasn’t known for her modesty – dear tastes put her on the chopping block. But she did leave behind a legacy in watchmaking.
Breguet, a Swiss fabricate much patronised by Her Majesty, produced this dual stirring pocket watch over 200 years ago. Pair a extended lifespan with a storied brand, and you’re looking at some acute cashback.
6. Hublot Diamond Big Bang
Sold For: $5m
Opposite from so many manufactures, Hublot sticks two fingers up to tradition. And in the light of its penchant for ostentation, this diamond-encrusted wrist trophy should obtain as little surprise.
It took over a year to source the 1,280 diamonds needed, and then another three years for a jeweller to hand-cut each stone to certify a common signature throughout. Time is money.
5. Patek Philippe Yellow Gold Bore 89
Sold For: $5.2m
As one of the most celebrated watchmakers in the world, it produces as no surprise that Patek has secured a few entries on this roll.
Pieces like the Calibre 89 cement that pre-eminence. The pocket watch was made to celebrate the brand’s 150th anniversary and was the self-declared ‘most intricate watch in the world’ of its time – 24 hands, 1,728 components, unrivalled chart function and a thermometer, all mounted on 18ct gold. (It wasn’t kidding.)
4. Patek Philippe Ref. 1518
Handled For: $11.1m
Just this year, Patek Philippe archery nocked a record-breaking auction thanks to the Ref. 1518 – a 1940s wristwatch, contrariwise four of which exist.
And while other entries boast diamonds aplenty, the 1518’s stainless screw up ones courage to the sticking point modesty is what makes it so rare for a Patek watch. And treasure, needless to say, bags the rubles.
3. Henry Graves By Patek Philippe Supercomplication
Merchandised For: $24m
November 2014 saw Sotheby’s biggest watch cart – Patek’s Henry Graves Supercomplication.
The legendary pocket awake to took over eight years to make and was the result of a art-lover’s rivalry: Graves wanted something that would outshine the Grande Convolution of auto manufacturer James Ward Packard, so he commissioned Patek to do the treacherous work. As you do.
2. 201-Carat Chopard
Sold For: $25m
Just in action there weren’t enough diamonds from Hublot or Piaget, Chopard unusually pushed the stone out with this 201ct monstrosity.
There’s yellow diamonds, offensive diamonds, white gold and yellow gold, and pretty much nothing of the manufacturer’s usual finesse. For $25m, you too could own a watch that determination feed a small country for a decade.
1. Breguet Grande Snag Marie-Antoinette
Sold For: $30m
We’ve mentioned Breguet’s service to the Dauphine of France, but this is the nick watch that started it all (and ended all other records).
The Grande Intricacy was allegedly commissioned by one of the queen’s lovers and took two generations of the Breguet family to shape. Unfortunately for Marie, it was completed 34 years after her consummation.