World's Most Famous Watch

A luxury timepiece described as the 'world's most famous watch' is expected to fetch a record $17million when it goes on auction later this year at Sotheby's.

The Henry Graves Supercomplication is the centrepiece of Sotheby's Geneva sale of Important Watches, and will go under the hammer on November 14.

The Supercomplication, known in some quarters as 'the Holy Grail of watches', is considered to be the most complicated watch to have ever been constructed by human hands.

When the timepiece last went to auction at Sotheby's in 1999, it sold for $11million, a record that stands to this day.

It's not known who has owned the illustrious timepiece all these years, though it has been suggested it may have been a member of the royal family of Qatar.

Now the auctioneer will offer the watch again to coincide with Patek Phillipe's 175th anniversary.

The story behind 'the world's most famous watch', reads like something out of a Hollywood production.

In 1925, New York City banker and watch collector Henry Graves Jr.became embroiled in a 'gentleman's duel' with fellow watch collector James Ward Packard, according to Stacy Perman, author of A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World's Most Legendary Watch.

This led him to approach Patek Phillipe, commissioning them to produce the most complicated watch in the world.

The famous watch-maker gladly took up the challenge, creating an piece that took three years of research to create and five more to produce.

The 18k gold piece has a total of 24 horological complications, including a perpetual calendar, moon phases, sidereal time, power reserve, and a chart for the sky above Graves' New York City apartment.

It took so long to produce because of the technology behind it, which featured 900 individual parts.

It remained the most complicated watch in the world for more than half a century, until the Patek Philippe Calibre 89, with 33 complications, finally surpassed it in 1989.

However, that particular timepiece was built by technicians backed by computers, and some still consider the Supercomplication to be the highest achievement in the field.

Perman calls it a 'triumph of physics and micro-engineering and mathematics ', and describes the inner-workings of the timepiece like 'extremely complicated three-dimensional chess'.

While there is no guarantee the illustrious watch will break its existing record, Perman says it stands a good chance of doing so, given the emerging number of billionaires in the world.

The Henry Graves Supercomplication will go to auction at Sotheby's on November 14.

Paul is a journalist and author of numerous blogs and web sites. This latest blog launched some ten months ago is dedicated to all things Luxury. Articles cover latest news and stories on all bespoke, hancrafted, luxury products and services from all over the World. The aim of the blog is to explore the Luxury Lifestyle and make it accessible to everyone.

This article was published on 04 Aug 2014 and has been viewed 549 times
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