They say that before buying a watch, you should know your budget and do your upmost to stay faithful to it. On this list, however, your budget may not cut it as we take a look at the worlds most expensive timepieces.
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A watch is an essential part of any mans outfit. After all, a great fitting watch has the power to transform a regular outfit into a spectacular one and can provide a major boost in confidence. As a result, most of us are willing to part with a sizeable amount of cash when shopping for our perfect watch because we know that not all watches are made equally.
Anyone who has ever bought a knock-off watch will testify to the fact that there is no substitute for the real thing. When it comes to horology (just a fancy word for clock making) most of us are aware of the major watchmaking brands such as a Rolex, Omega and Tag Heuer, but less is known about the elite brands such as Patek Philippe, Chopard and Piaget, makers of some of the most desired timepieces in the world.
Incidentally it is no surprise that we know very little of these companies. That is exactly the way they like it. The watches these companies produce are usually reserved for the worlds jet-set; the types of people who spend their time in Monte Carlo parading their new yacht or supercar, not quite for the likes of us mere mortals. Most of us can only ever dream of owning such watches. Fortunately for us, dreaming is free...
Expensive Watch Brands
- Patek Philippe: The king of luxury watches. Alongside Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe forms a third of the 'holy trinity' of Swiss watchmakers. The company is also famous for having crafted many watches for Queen Victoria. Want to own your very own Patek Philippe? I don't blame you. Unfortunately the cheapest watch they make will set you back $20,000!
- Chopard: With prices as low as $3000 we are giving Chopard the title of 'budget' luxury watchmaker. Joking aside, Chopard is very revered and is often acknowledged globally for their innovations in watchmaking, especially women's watches.
- Piaget: Founded in 1874, Piaget is a company known for its extravagant designs. New York luxury brand analysts, the Luxury institute, ranked Piaget the 6th most luxurious brand on the planet. Rumour has it that Cushelle beat them into 5th place.
- Vacheron Constantin: This Swiss watch manufacture is not only famous for their high quality and expensive watches but also for being the first watchmaker to develop engine-turned dials. Swashbuckling conqueror of the seven seas Napoleon and former American president Harry Truman are known to have owned a Vacheron Constantin timepiece.
- Audemars Piguet: Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet founded this Swiss watchmaking giant back in 1875. The pair would on to form an almighty coalition and create some of the most memorable watches ever. The Royal Oak Complication, containing over 52 jewel movements, is perhaps their most famous and most expensive creation.
Most Expensive Watch in the World
The daddy of all watches! In 2014, the Breguet Grande Marie Antoinette was valued at $30 million dollars, or, in other words, the entire GDP of the Island of Tuvalu. One imagines that the value has only risen since then.
Interestingly the story behind this pocket watch is as mind-blowing as its price. Work on this exquisite piece started back in 1783, after a mysterious man place an order for a rather spectacular sounding watch. Its intended recipient? Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France.
This mystery man demanded that wherever possible gold replace all movements. Such was the delicacy of the operation that it took over 40 years to construct this magnificent watch. As a consequence, its prospective recipient never laid hands on it, sadly dying a few years before its completion.
Notably, the watch was stolen in the late 1900’s and was only retrieved 27 years later - luckily in one piece. Currently the watch can be found safely secured at the L.A. Mayer museum.
Top 10 Watches
- Rolex Cosmograph-Daytona: An icon, pure and simple.
- Rolex Submariner: King of the divers watches.
- Omega Speedmaster Professional: A true classic.
- Breitling Navitimer: Worn by astronaut Scott Carpenter. Quite literally out of this world.
- Patek Philippe Calatrava: Clean and simple; sometimes less really is more.
- Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Effortless design.
- Zenith El Primero: The first watch to have an automatic chronograph movement; a true pioneer.
- Tag Heuer Carrera: Has been able to survive numerous updates; immortal.
- Cartier Tank: The rectangle shape makes it truly standout.
- Jaeger - LeCoultre Reverso: Worn by British officers in India; resilient.
World's Most Expensive Rolex Watch
Rolex watches are not known for their low prices so managing to become the costliest Rolex ever made is quite an achievement. In 2014 the Daytona 6263 “Albino” became exactly that, selling for a whopping £3,204,633.61 at auction.
Incidentally the watch got its unusual name because of the white chronograph subdials. Other notable features include a stainless steel case. Why so much fuss for this particular Rolex? Well the 6263 had everything watch collectors looks for. It was incredibly rare - only four were ever made. It held a-list prestige; drummer Eric Clapton owned one and, put simply, it's a Rolex!
Why are Rolex Watches so Expensive?
There are a number reasons why Rolex's are so expensive, well six reasons to be precise:
- Status: The Rolex brand has become synonymous with quality and wealth and as such their products are priced accordingly.
- Heritage: Despite using high-tech machinery at several stages of the manufacturing process, Rolex ensures that a trained technician works on every watch before being approved.
- Quality: Only rust and corrosive resistant 904L steel is used on Rolex's.
- Expertise: All movements are made in-house.
- Obsessive: Believe it or not, Rolex actually produce their own gold and is the only watch manufacturer in the world to do so.
- Patience: It takes a full 24 months to manufacture a Rolex. So next time you look down at your Rolex, remember, two years worth of hard graft has gone into that piece of machinery.
World's Most Expensive Omega Watch
The Constellation Baguette; I don't blame you if you are feeling rather peckish around about now. Remarkably this is one of the few watches on this guide that is still for sale. This timepiece can be bought in Geneva at the Omega boutique to anyone who is willing to part with just under a million dollars. It has 30-carats, 459 Wesselton diamonds, 146 baguette and trapeze diamonds on the dial and the case is made of 18-carat white gold.
Admittedly its gaudy style may not be for everyone; it looks like something that Del Boy would have at the back of his van. Still, it's hard to argue with the exquisite craftsmanship.
World's Most Expensive Patek Philippe Watch
Made over 80 years ago for banker and watch collector Henry Graves the Supercomplication is oozing with exquisite personal touches. This particular 18-carat watch has a celestial chart based entirely on the night sky above Graves’ home in New York. Other features include the Westminster chimes, a perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times and a total of 24 different functions.
So how much did these personal touches cost, I hear you ask. Well at the time -1933- a rather modest $202,000. However in 2014 that figure was obliterated after it was sold for, brace yourselves, $25 million, making it the most expensive pocket watch ever sold at auction, a title it still holds to this day.
The Patek Philippe Calibre 89, which we have already seen on this guide, recently overtook the Supercomplication as the most complex watch ever built without computers. Despite this, the unique features and superb aesthetics means that the Supercomplication will forever remain one of most admired watches of all time.
Patek Philippe Star Caliber 2000: The Caliber 2000 took eight years to make and as you can imagine that kind of devoted craftsmanship does not come cheap; $4 million to be exact - or, in other words, two Bugatti Veyrons.
Breguet Antique Number 2667: The 2667 follows the luxury watch tradition motto of more is better, containing not one, but two oscillating bodies. Oh and it also has 18-carat yellow gold in case you are interested. It can be yours for a mere $4.5 million.
Patek Philippe Calibre 89: It took nine engineers, five years of research and a further four years of construction to produce this watch. This completely hand crafted gem of a watch houses 33 separate components making it one of the worlds most complex timepieces.
There are only four in existence with colours ranging from white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, to platinum. Not the most expensive watch on this list but it will still require over $5 million in order for you to prize one these away from Patek Philippe. Better start saving that pocket money!
201-Carat Chopard: Why have 200 carats when you can 201! To break that down that's three heart-shaped diamonds consisting of a 15-carat pink diamond, a 12-carat blue diamond and an 11-carat white diamond with a further 163 carats of white and yellow diamonds.
All this 'bling' leaves the watch looking more like a rare precious stone than a time keeping device. The secrecy that surrounded its production in 2000 not only put MI5 to shame but also means that the owner has remained anonymous to this day.
Patek Philippe 2585: This particular Patek Philippe watch is special because of the automatic caliber. All this essentially means is that the watches movement and function is controlled by the wearer's wrist instead of by dials, which I guess is a way of impressing your friends down the country club. Only one 2585 was ever made, making it one of the desired self-winding watches on the planet.