In modern watchmaking, the true price of a timepiece is determined by four simple factors — various complications that power its movement, craftsmanship using rare materials, jewel enrichment, and exclusivity. The watch in question today ticks two of these boxes from the start — exclusivity and movement — which has earned this timepiece the crown title of being the world’s most expensive watch in the world.
Priced at a hefty Rs. 223 cr, the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime is the true pinnacle of watchmaking. But here’s what makes this Swiss masterpiece a multi-million dollar horological flex and the greatest novelty in watchmaking history.
Historically, Patek Philippe watches have always fared exceptionally well at auctions, take the Ref 1518 for instance, which went under the hammer and was eventually sold for £8.9 million. However, that was a one-of-four. The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime is, as its dial says “The Only One”. This plays a major role in its price determination. Auctioned back in November, the ultra-complicated pièce unique, sold as a part of charity auction Only Watch 2019. The eventual price puts it ahead of the Henry Graves Supercomplication and Paul Newman’s personal Daytona (both of which currently hold the #2 and #3 record for ‘most expensive watch sold at auction’).
But why does this horological paean fetch for such a significant sum? The Patek Phillippe Grandmaster Chime is a mechanical beauty, but let’s talk about the dial first. Every square-millimeter of this beautiful salmon dial is a feast of complications, with most being the best of modern horology. Here’s a list.
- Grande and Petite Sonnerie
- Minute repeater with a Strikework mode display
- Date Repeater
- Perpetual calendar
- Movement power-reserve indicator
- Strikework power-reserve indicator
- Strikework isolator indicator
- Second time zone
- Second time zone day/night indicator
- Display of day and month
- Date display (on both dials)
- Leap year cycle
- Four-digit year display
- 24-hour and minute sub-dial
- Crown position indicator
- Moon phases
Having all of these on a one a dial would be a bit much, which is why a few of these complications actually rest on the caseback, and in that case, we’d need to call it a reverse dial. But thanks to the spillover benefits of the reversing mechanism, the Grandmaster Chime was also crafted to be a reversible watch. Fitting all of these complications between two dials is already a record breaking horological accomplishment, made for a thick case of 16mm in height and 48mm overall.
While all of this is utterly impressive, the movement in action comes with a history of its own. Patek has been the cornerstone of high horology for 180 years. Eleven of those 180 years were spent perfecting the incredible caliber Caliber 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM powering this watch. It’s a beacon of chime watchmaking that represents over a century-and-a-half work’s worth of Patek Philippe’s horological expertise. There’s just one of them in existence, as the dial boasts “The Only One”, immortalising this grand accomplishment.
To conclude, it’s safe to say that the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime deserves such a significant price-tag and the prestigious badge of being the world’s most expensive wristwatch. The use of a movement revered by generations in high horology make it worth Rs 223 cr.
All images: Courtesy Christie’s & Patek Philippe