A Closer Look at The $24 million Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication

Patek Phillipe Henry Graves pocketwatch

People have always been in a race against time; students will wait until the last minute to cram notes for the final exam while an employee will procrastinate and just when the project is due, he will rush to impress his boss. Time and tide wait for no man, and that is why we are always looking at our different timepieces to ensure that we are well within limits. However, for some, it is not about having a watch to always know what the time is, but having an item of value to maybe show off to friends. That is why celebrities will don watches they spend a fortune on while you will keep your mobile phone to serve the same purpose. When you hear that someone spent $24 million on a watch, you have to start imagining why someone would go to such lengths to acquire an expensive timepiece. Let’s break it down for you, and maybe you will understand that if you had the money, you would have rushed to bid for the timepiece too.

All it took was a friendly rivalry

In business, one thing that consumers can thank competition for is the fact that producers will try their best to make excellent products while retailers will usually lower their prices to own a customer thereby earning a consumer a great product at an affordable price. That kind of competition can lead to a rivalry between businesses, and some will make sure that their competitor is out of business, maybe by getting the biggest market share. Friends are not supposed to compete against each other, but when they do, it usually is friendly, and it is for this reason that this expensive timepiece exists today. In the early 1990s, two wealthy men engaged themselves in competition to see who would collect the most complex watch; the men were James Ward Packard, an American industrialist and Henry Graves Jr, an American banker. To them, money was no object; hence, they both commissioned the making of the most complex watches in a bid to outdo each other.

Therefore, to beat his friend, Henry Graves Jr. set out to commission a watch that would be the most complicated on the world, and he gave Patek Philippe to begin creating one for him. Patek Philippe had always been the go-to-guy for both of these gentlemen, and he must have made a fortune too from the endless competition. The process of creating the most complicated timepiece for Henry began in 1925 after he paid Patek 60,000 Swiss Francs which were equivalent to $15,000. You might wonder why no other watch was manufactured later on to beat the record that Henry was looking for when he commissioned its creation. Unfortunately, the rivalry had to come to an end because nature took its course, and James died even before the timepiece was complete. Were he alive, the rivalry would have gone on and perhaps an even more complex would have been produced a few years later.

What makes it so special?

The fact that a woman will carry a child for nine months before giving birth makes every mother rest her children they are the most prized possession. Remembering the heartburns, nausea, swollen feet, and face as well the inability to tolerate certain foods makes the pregnancy even more memorable. For products, the producers also undergo painstaking measures to ensure that they come up with the best commodity. It was therefore no different for Patek when he was charged with such a big task by a prominent man. Consequently, Patek took three years to design the watch alone and another five years to manufacture it to completion. So what was he doing in those eight years for a single watch that has been sometimes referred to as a wonder of the world? Well, inspiration comes from every place we look if only we are keen to take our time and appreciate our surroundings. Patek must have drawn his inspiration from the sky mostly because among the things that watch has a record of not just the phases of the moon but the age too. He must have been an astrologer in another life because if the efforts he exerted towards the watchmaking with the sky as his guide.

The watch has sunset and sunrise indications as well as a New York sky celestial map. The map indicates the precise density and spacing of the stars and rotates at the exact pace as that of the sky. Besides being an 18-carat gold watch with 24 complications, the watch has 920 individual parts, 120 of which are removable. It is assembled with 430 screws and comprises 110 wheels and 70 jewels, all of which are handcrafted on a tiny scale. Its case weighs only 536 grams, and you can view the time through 36 mm glass case whose diameter is 74 mm. With the watch, you do not need to go buying a calendar since it comes with a perpetual calendar indicating days of the month, days of the week that adjust themselves automatically. It can come in handy for athletes whose every second count because the watch has a stopwatch not only has a 12-hour and 30-minute recorder, but it also can time split seconds.

Why the astronomical price?

Knowing that it took eight years for the watch to be completed can have you thinking it is the reason for the high price, considering that some shoes take months and still fetch a higher price usually because of all the embellishments. One thing we must appreciate is that Patek did this without the assistance of computers; from the design to the making of the watch itself.

However, what goes into the astronomical; price is also the history behind it. While the watch remained in the Graves family, passing from one generation to the next, it ended up in the Time Museum before Sotheby’s came knocking. This watch broke the record by becoming the most expensive timepiece to be sold in an auction for the price of $11,002,500, on December 2, 1999. That would have been the end of its journey, but it seems like the watch was made to keep us talking about it forever. Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Al-Thani, a member of the Qatar royal family, kept it on his family but after his death in 2014, Sotheby’s auctioned it again. While it may seem like the death of the Sheikh led to the sale of the watch, what we understand is that Sotheby’s had already announced in July 2014, four months before its sale, that it would auction the watch on November 2014. Once again, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication watch made history by breaking its record of being the most expensive watch sold in an auction, this time the price is 23,237, 000 Swiss Francs equivalent to $24 million, in 2014.


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