Paul Newman’s personal Rolex was on everyone’s mind as Only Watch 2019 got under way on November 9th in Geneva to raise funds for research into neuromuscular disorders. The iconic actor’s watch had sold at auction in New York in 2017 for $17.7 million. Except this year’s Only Watch included a serious contender for the title of “most expensive watch in the world” in the form of a one-off Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A in steel by Patek Philippe. The watch, which has a reversible case and two dials, boasts 20 complications. Excitement levels were high even before the auction began. As bids climbed, the room held its breath then broke into applause as lot 28 sailed past the twenty-million mark… and kept going. Verdict: at CHF 31 million, this Grandmaster Chime smashed the record set by the Paul Newman Rolex and even galloped home ahead of the Henry Graves Supercomplication pocket watch that Patek Philippe (again) had made for the billionaire banker in the 1920s, and which realised $24 million when it came up for auction in 2014.
A string of records
This new record confirms Patek Philippe as the star of the saleroom and carries on the Geneva manufacture’s run of high-selling timepieces at Only Watch, with a Triple Complication Ref. 5208T in platinum that made CHF 6.2 million in 2017 and, two years before that, the Grande Complication Ref. 5016A which fetched CHF 7.3 million – at that time the highest amount ever paid for a wristwatch at auction. The record was subsequently beaten twice, by the Patek Philippe Grande Complication Ref. 1518 in steel that went for CHF 11 million in 2016, then the famous Paul Newman Rolex. Until last Saturday, when Patek Philippe claimed back its title.
Reference 6300A-010 is the only Grandmaster Chime ever in stainless steel, a metal rarely used by Patek Philippe and certainly not for one of its grand complications. Introduced for the manufacture’s 175th anniversary in 2014, it became part of the regular collection as a white gold version in 2016. It is the most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch ever. Its 20 complications include five chiming functions, two of which are patented world-firsts: an acoustic alarm that strikes the alarm time with quarter-hour intervals, and a date repeater that sounds the date on demand. The case can be turned over to display either side thanks to a reversing mechanism, also patented.
Patek Philippe Ref. 6300A-010A
This unique piece measures 47.70mm in diameter and 16.07mm high, and is driven by the manual-winding Calibre 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM mechanical movement. The reversible case in steel is hand-decorated with “Clous de Paris” hobnail guillochage and is protected against dust and humidity (though not water-resistant). The side with time display is in pink gold with applied Breguet numerals. The side with the calendar display is in black ebony with 18k solid gold dial plates. The back alligator strap fastens with a deployant clasp.
Its functions are as follows: grande sonnerie and petite sonnerie, minute repeater with strike mode indicator and strikework isolator indicator, alarm with time strike, date repeater, instantaneous perpetual calendar displaying the date (on both sides), day, month and leap year, four-digit year display, 24-hour and minute subdial, moon phases, second time zone with day/night indicator, power-reserve displays for the striking mechanism and the movement, and crown position indicator.