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The 5 Most Expensive Clocks Ever Sold at Auction

There has always been a fascination with time pieces, both table clocks and wrist watches, especially old, and rare pieces. Time pieces have always represented a multitude of things, from beauty, to extraordinary craftsmanship, and thoughtful and unique technology.

People, from time piece enthusiasts to collectors have been driven to get their hands on old, rare, and timeless clocks from an array of different clockmakers that have made unique clocks, many of which have become very expensive, and some worth several millions of dollars.

Some of these fascinating clocks from centuries ago, are only found in museums, while others have been found, available for purchase through auctions. Have you ever wondered what some of the most expensive clocks are that have been sold at auctions? Here is a list of the five most expensive clocks ever sold at auction.

5. Flamingo and lotus automation clock - $1.2 Million

Cartier was founded in the mid 1800's and has been designing and manufacturing some of the world's finest watches and clocks since. It is a company known to design time pieces for some of the most influential people in the world. They produce some of the most unique, technologically complicated pieces, and many of them have been sold for very high prices.

One of their most famous clocks they've ever designed, is the Flamingo and lotus automation clock. It is often referred to as a gaudy piece of work, however, it doesn't really matter what it is thought of, because this particular clock sold for $1.2 million at an auction put on by the infamous Sotheby's, in Hong Kong in 2013.

The clock was produced in the 1980's, so is not really considered antique, but due to the diamond weight of the clock, which happens to be 190 carats, this is one of the major components of the clock that makes it such a spectacular time piece and worth so much.

4. Thomas Tompion Clock - $2 Million

The renowned clockmaker, Thomas Tompion, designed and produced only three of these clocks just about the turn of the 18th century. He was known as England's most prominent watchmaker and during his career, he produced approximately 5,500 watches, and 650 clocks. His design and construction were so sound, that there are both watches and clocks that survive today, and still function. 

One of his long clocks, crafted of gilt brass and tortoiseshell, was considered a clock of significant luxury and is one of the most recognized antique clocks in the world. Due to its rich history and status of luxury, it earned a high selling figure at a Sotheby auction in 1999, reaching a sum of $2 million.

3. Magpie's treasure nest - $2.3 Million

Some clocks are more intricately designed as a piece of artistry and meant to be displayed as artwork. The Magpie's treasure nest clock is one of these, and it was designed and manufactured by Patek Philppe, a famous high end watch maker. It is a very interesting looking clock and very colorful. It artistically depicts a magpie bird feeding her baby bird in a nest.

The clock is made up of several materials, with the base being constructed out of agate, onyx, and calcite, plus others. The time piece also boasts 24.95 carats of diamonds and 13.17 of rubies. To top it off, a beautiful blue oval tanzanite can be seen hanging from the beak of the mother magpie, and it weighs 104.75 carats. It's no wonder this incredible clock sold for $2.3 million, and it sold at the Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong.

2. Chinese Ormolu clock (1736-1795) - $4 Million

The Chinese Ormolu clock, dating 1736-1795, is a complicated, multi-functioning clock and is regarded as one of the most extraordinary, and impressive clocks in the world. The clock features music and automata, and is designed from gilded and engraved copper and ormolu. Due to the time period of this clock, the fact that it is multi-functional, only makes it even more impressive.

The construction of the clock is an embellishment of panels of gilded copper that boast flowing vines of flowers that are housed with beaded frames and red paste gem frames. There is a lot going on with this tiered clock, leaping fish, moving birds, and the automata function of the clock is the red curtains that rise, revealing a niche of painted flowers and banisters. This clock sold for $4 million at a Sotheby auction in 2008, in Hong Kong. It's one of the most expensive clocks ever sold at auction.

1. Duc d'Orleans Breguet Sympathique clock (dated 1835) - $6.8 Million

Another Sotheby auction brought in $6.8 million for the Duc d'Orleans Breguet Sympathique clock, dated 1835. It is a very unique and beautifully designed clock. It was constructed of ormolu-mounted red, tortoiseshell, and is a quarter-striking clock witht a half-quarter repeating gold pocket watch that is thoughtfully mounted at the top of the clock.

The clock was restored by an expert and was once in the possession of the Time Museum in Rockford, IL. It was sold for over $6.8 million and is the most expensive clock sold at auction.

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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