Luxury watches have come a long way. Unlike in the past where timepieces were perceived as a necessary accessory to a man’s look, today they are used to convey personality. This is primarily attributed to the addition of a clock function in modern phones, which eliminates the need to keep track of time with a manual timepiece. The beginning of luxury watches can be traced back to the eighteenth century, during the peak of jewelry manufacturing. The Swiss are considered to be the pioneers of modern wristwatches as we know them. Some of their most notable watch houses such as Tissot and Raddo Longines have evolved to satisfy successive generations over time.
Today, there are numerous luxury watch manufacturers across the world, and the craft of watchmaking has developed into an art, incorporating precious minerals to enhance the appearance of their creations. Most of these timepieces are reserved for the fortunate few, with price tags sprawling to millions of dollars. Take a look at the world’s five most expensive watches in 2017, for instance:
5. Franck Muller The Aeternitas Mega 4 – $2.4 million
Dubbed as the world’s most complicated wristwatch, the Aeternitas Mega 4 is the epitome of success in the art of watchmaking when it comes to complications and complexity. It is equipped with 1’ 483 components and 36 complications, representing a mastermind watchmaker and micro-mechanic ingenuity. The entire manufacturing process was done in-house, with every component designed to make the watch look elegant. The term “Aeternitas” is the Latin word for eternity. It pays tribute to the eternal calendar in the watch, which adheres to a millennium cycle renewable to infinity.
4. Hublot Big Bang – $5 million
The Big Bang Tourbillion, created by Swiss manufacturer Hublot, is one of the most expensive wristwatches in the world today. The timepiece is encrusted with at least 1,282 diamonds, weighing 100 karats. This includes six emerald cut diamonds engraved on the bracelet, each weighing more than three karats. Each stone was chosen individually to ensure consistency in terms of color scheme and quality. It took about fourteen months to assemble all the required stones from across the globe and then resize them as necessary.
Hublot has been famed for manufacturing extremely costly timepieces. The Big Bang is housed in a 44mm diameter case, which is rounded with sapphire crystals with exterior and interior antireflective coating. The case is also equipped with an 18-karat white gold screw-in crown, adorned with twelve baguette diamonds weighing a total of 0.67 karats, in addition to a 1.06-karat rose cut diamond.
3. Patek Philippe Caliber 89 – $11 million
This timepiece can be traced back to 1989, when Patek Philippe decided to create the most complex mechanical watch to celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary. In addition, the watch was intended to a sort of portable museum of haute horlogerie in terms of general level of execution and finish. This would in turn represent the highest state of knowledge and craftsmanship achievable in mechanical and Swiss watchmaking. To achieve this, a substantial number of complications was incorporated, many of which were alien in traditional grand complication watches. The Caliber 89 also outshined most timepieces in terms of bulkiness.
Its diameter is a jaw dropping 88.2mm while the thickness is 41.07mm. It weighs 1.1kg, and came as a limited edition with only 4 pieces: platinum, rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold. There is a prototype stored in the Patek Philippe Museum as well. It is extremely rare to find this watch, and the last time it came under the spotlight was at the Christie’s New York sale in 2016. The caliber 89 boasts an overwhelming number of complications: a full perpetual calendar displaying the year in an aperture, a split seconds chronograph, the moon’s phases and age, and a second time zone. The other side displays astronomical indications: zodiac signs, equinoxes and solstices, seasons, times of sunrise and sunset, and equation of time.
2. Patek Philippe Supercomplication Pocket Watch – $24 million
The supercomplication pocket watch was commissioned by Henry Graves, Jr., – a secretive New York financier and one of the greatest watch collectors in the twentieth century. The timepiece took half a decade to design and then three more just to manufacture. It is made of 18 karat gold and incorporates twenty four complications, making it one of the most complicated watches of its era. Apart from calculating hours and minutes, the pocket watch can also measure sunrise and sunset, houses a perpetual calendar, and produces the same melody as the Big Ben in London.
However, the most breathtaking feature is the celestial chart, which perfectly outlines the night sky above the Central Park Zoo along 5th Avenue. The Supercomplication made its official debut in 1933 to the tune of 60,000 Swiss Francs (equivalent to $15,000), approximately $275,000 today. The pocket watch was more than just a timekeeper; it represented an era when the exclusivity of owning a timepiece had passed over to United States’ industrial princes, and the country had started its rise as an international superpower. During that time, watchmakers were also considered among the most innovative engineers on the globe. The Supercomplication was created and calculated completely by hand, resulting in a breathtaking feat of micro mechanical engineering that represented the absolute limits of technology during that period.
1. Chopard 201 Carat Watch – $25 million
Chopard watches are known to be cut above the rest. Each watch in the company’s collection is built with excellent quality and boasts an extremely unique design. The same applies for the Chopard 201 carat, a sparkling timepiece that dates back to the year 2000. The chopard 201 is the epitome of luxury. It incorporates a variety of colored diamonds in fancy shapes and unusual hues that complements its glamorous appeal. The watch is completely handmade and contains 874 first-grade diamonds of different sizes and colors. There is a 15.37-karat heart shaped pink diamond in the middle of the dazzling yellow gold and white gold hardware, as well as a 11.36-karat heart shaped diamond and another blue heart shaped diamond weighing 12.79 karats. Every stone is held in a bracelet containing clusters of pear shaped flawless diamonds (totaling to 260), and 91 round diamonds totaling 10.29 karats in weight. Once the spring loaded mechanism in the watch is pressed, the 3 heart-shaped stones open up like flower petals in the sunlight, revealing the watch face that contains 3 pear shaped yellow diamonds.