Five bidders competed for this masterpiece of horology which went to an anonymous buyer in the room after 15 minutes of suspense. Completed by Patek Philippe in 1932 and estimated in excess of CHF 15 million, The Henry Graves Supercomplication is the most famous watch in the world and the most complicated watch ever made by human hands – without computer-assisted technology. Tonight’s record bid brought the total of the Important Watch auction to an outstanding CHF 31,603,375 (USD 32,618,159 / EUR 26,270,011 / GBP 20,584,475).
Commenting on the results of the sale, Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s Watch Division and Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Watches, and this evening auctioneer said: “This stellar result confirms the “rockstar” status of The Henry Graves Supercomplication. It is more than a watch. It is a masterpiece which 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.”
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 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.
Other highlights in today’s sale include:
A very important example of Patek Philippe Reference 3974 in yellow gold, with automatic perpetual calendar, minute-repeating and moon-phases, circa 1991 achieved CHF 329,000 (USD 339,564) (lot 344, est. CHF 230,000 – 350,000 / USD 245,000 – 373,000).
Rolex performed strongly today. A rare Daytona “Paul Newman” in yellow gold, circa 1968 tripled its pre-sale low estimate, selling for CHF 245,000 (USD 252,867) (lot 306, est. CHF 80,000-120,000 / USD 85,500-128,000).
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight”, designed to commemorate 70 years since the tragic death of celebrated writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, sold for CHF 40,000 (USD 41,284) (lot 180). All the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation and go to support the Hospital Pequeno Príncipe in Curitiba, Brazil’s largest children’s hospital. The fund will help to build a library for young patients of this centre, which specializes in highly complex heart operations, organ and bone transplants and cancer treatment.