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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Henry Graves Supercomplication Fetches $24 Million at Sotheby’s Geneva

With all the superlatives attached to it, it was a near certainty that The Henry Graves Supercomplication would go for a world record price at Sotheby’s Geneva sale of Important Watches held Tuesday. It already established the record when it sold for $11 million in 1999. It is also known as the most complicated hand-made watch and the most famous watch in the world.

But still the $24 million it achieved is something special. The auction house said five bidders competed for the timepiece for 15 minutes. It was finally sold to a buyer in the room, who requested anonymity, well above its $16.8 million estimate.

“This evening’s stellar result confirms the ‘rockstar’ status of The Henry Graves Supercomplication. It is more than a watch,” said Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Watches, and Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s Watch Division. “It is a masterpiece that transcends the boundaries of horology and has earned its place among the world’s greatest works of art. The fascination it has attracted over the past few months, as Patek Philippe celebrates its 175th anniversary, is a fitting tribute to the genius of the Swiss manufacturer.”

Commissioned in 1925 by Henry Graves, a prominent New York banker, and completed by Patek Philippe in 1932, The Henry Graves Supercomplication is the product of three years of research and five years of effort it resulted in a gold openface minute repeating chronograph clockwatch with Westminster chimes. Among its features 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, The Graves 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.

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