The world’s most famous watch, the Henry Graves Supercomplication, has been sold for US$24 million to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s in Geneva. A 15-minute bidding frenzy between five potential buyers saw the watch smash its pre-auction sale estimate of US$17 million and more than doubled the record $11 million auction price it established in 1999.
Created by Patek Philippe for Henry Graves, a prominent New York banker, in 1933, the Supercomplication is considered the most complicated watch ever made completely by hand. Graves commissioned Patek Philippe to produce the timepiece in 1925.
After three years of research and five years’ of effort, the gold pocket watch with 24 horological complications, including a perpetual calendar, moon phases, sidereal time, power reserve, and indications for time of sunset and sunrise and the night sky of New York City, was produced. Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s worldwide head of watches and Daryn Schnipper, chairman of Sotheby’s watch division, said “the list of superlatives which can be attached to this icon of the 20th century is truly extraordinary”.
“Indisputably the ‘Holy Grail’ of watches, The Henry Graves Supercomplication, combines the Renaissance ideal of the unity of beauty and craftsmanship with the apogee of science,” he said.
Sotheby’s first sold the Henry Graves Supercomplication in New York in December 1999. With a pre-auction estimate of US$3-5 million, the watch “excited enormous interest and sparked an extended bidding contest” and exceeded the company’s wildest expectations when it sold for US$11 million.