Before World War II, the United States was well-known as being a world leader in handmade watches with multiple homegrown watch companies competing directly with the Swiss. Although several of those brands still exist today, such as Bulova, Hamilton and Waltham, they do not produce watches in the United States and many watch experts claim that the quality has declined. With the improvement in technology, many watches are automated in factories for improved efficiency which equates to a padded bottom line. While many handmade watches still exist, they are becoming few and far between. The majority of handmade watches now come from overseas professionals who charge a significant amount of money for their beautiful craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Handmade Versus Factory Watches
Handmade watches differ greatly from factory-produced watches. Every part of a handmade watch is precisely pieced together by a professional in a shop. Given that this takes a lot of time, the cost is much more expensive. Also, handmade watches are much rarer due to the fact that a watchmaker can only output a certain number of watches per day. On the other hand, factories can automate the production of watches and produce hundreds of thousands in a short period of time.
There are numerous intricate details in the most incredible handmade watches like diamonds, rare gems and other expensive stones that increase their price. These watches contain complicated mechanisms that make telling time accurate. Many are equipped with a tourbillion, a mechanism that counters gravity. Each of these factors increase the selling price of the watch.
The following is a list of the most incredible handmade watches in the world:
Breguet Pocket Watch 1970
The Breguet Pocket Watch 1970 is an 18-karat gold, stylish pocket watch with hand engraving. The face is constructed from silver and consists of top-notch, high-quality craftsmanship found in every detail. The watch chain is durable and secure enough to keep it attached to your pocket. This watch can be purchased for a cool $734,000.
Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication
Costing $800,000, the Blancpain 1735 boasts a case made with platinum and watch strap constructed from crocodile skin. The internal watch engine is made from 740 pieces of handmade componentry. For this reason, the Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication is one of the most complicated wristwatches ever created.
Louis Moinet Magistralis
The Louis Moinet Magistralis is a majestic timepiece that is incredibly stylish and contains genuine meteorite that was found by astronauts on the moon. The watch features a perpetual calendar mechanism for easy access to the date and time. The cost is around $860,000.
Hublot Black Caviar Band
When launched in 2009, Hublot’s Black Caviar timepiece was a jaw dropper to enthusiasts around the world. The watch is covered in 501 uniquely-cut black diamond’s set within 18-karat white gold. The piece is surprisingly understated and an instant classic costing $1 million.
Chopard Super Ice Cube
As a Swiss-made watch, the Chopard Super Ice Cube boasts 60-karats of diamonds that are perfectly cut into cube. The watch doubles as a bracelet which is water resistant up to 100-feet and completely scratch resistant. This ornate piece of jewelry is valued at $1.1 million.
Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon
At $1.3 million, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is the most complicated wrist watch ever constructed by Patek Philippe. On one side of the watch is the night sky, with its own precision, while the front has the moon and date phases. In addition to being an incredible watch, it is also a piece of modern art and design.
Vacheron Constantin Tour de I’lle
Costing a mere $1.5 million, the Tour de I’lle is a complicated watch created by Vacheron Constantin, a Swiss watch manufacturer. Released in 2005 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the company, the Tour de I’lle boasts 18 karat gold with a non-reflective glass that is made from blue sapphire. The watch is two-sided; one side tells the time while the other side provides the date and a variety of other features.
Patek Philippe Platinum World Time
Also constructed by Patek Philippe, the Platinum World Time watch sold at auction in 2002 for $4 million. Experts agree that this is the only one of its kind and was the most expensive wristwatch in the world in 2002. The watch actually winds itself and you can find the time anywhere in the world. There are several finishes to select including white and rose gold, platinum and yellow.
Patek Philippe Supercomplication
With a listing price of close to $11 million, the Patek Philippe Supercomplication is an 18-karat gold pocket watch constructed by Patek Philippe in 1933 for banker Henry Graves Jr. The watch took five years to design and create. It contains 24 complications (mechanical features beyond standard timekeeping) such as different chronological functions for every hour of the day. At one time, this piece was the most expensive watch ever sold at an action and most complicated watch ever created.
Chopard 210 karat
This is not just a watch, is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and beauty. This watch is so ornate and unique, there is no standard listing price. Boasting 201 karats of colored diamonds, the watch appears to be more of bracelet. It is an incredible piece of jewelry first and a watch second. This timepiece is appears to be surrounded by flowers, made of jewels. The estimated cost for this piece of modern brilliance is $26 million.
These watches are not just for telling time and checking the date; they are rare masterpieces that you can also wear on your arm. Some of them are so ornate and incredibly crafted, they should not even be worn in public for fear of theft or damage. There are millions of watches around the world from inexpensive digital to high-end, ornate timepieces. However, these 10 watches really set the precedent in craftsmanship, detail and design for watchmakers all over the world.
Are you in the market for one of these masterpieces?