Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Art & Auctions
Famous watch expected to fetch $16m

One of the world’s most famous watches returns to the market this November as the centrepiece of a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sotheby’s will offer the Henry Graves Supercomplication made by Patek Philippe in 1933, at its November 11 watch sale. This masterpiece of horology is said to be the most famous watch in the world and the most complicated ever made completely by human hand.

Its reappearance on the market, 15 years after its record sale, will coincide with Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary celebrations and will be a fitting tribute to the genius of the Swiss manufacturer. The watch will be offered in Sotheby’s Geneva sale of Important Watches with an estimate in excess of CHF15 million ($15.8 million).

Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Watches, and Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s Watch Division, said: “The list of superlatives which can be attached to this icon of the 20th century is truly extraordinary.  Indisputably the ‘holy grail’ of watches, the Henry Graves Supercomplication combines the Renaissance ideal of the unity of beauty and craftsmanship with the apogee of science. Our offering of this horological work of art in 1999 was unquestionably the highlight of our professional careers and set a world record which has held until today. We are extremely privileged to be offering it once again.”

In 1925, Patek Philippe was commissioned by Henry Graves, a prominent New York banker, to produce the most complicated watch in the world. The product of three years of research and five years’ effort by the most skilled technicians, this extraordinary timepiece is a gold openface minute repeating chronograph clockwatch with Westminster chimes. Among the features it incorporates are a perpetual calendar, moon phases, sidereal time, power reserve, and indications for time of sunset and sunrise and the night sky of New York City.

With a total of 24 horological complications, watch retained the title of the world’s most complicated watch for 56 years and even then was only surpassed by technicians working with the aid of computer-assisted machines.

Sotheby’s first sold the Henry Graves Supercomplication in New York in 1999, as part of a sale of 81 masterpieces from the world-renowned Time Museum. Offered with an estimate of $3-5 million, the watch sold for a record-breaking $11 million, becoming the most expensive timepiece ever sold at auction.

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