Here's why the $31 million Patek Philippe is the world’s most expensive watch
It’s official folks, Patek Philippe has snatched back the title of the most expensive wristwatch in the world from Rolex. You're probably wondering why the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime sold for an astronomical US $31 million?
In the world of watches, this is about as big as it gets, literally. The colossal 47mm Grandmaster Chime, made in stainless steel for Only Watch 2019, has become the most expensive wristwatch in the whole wide world, shattering its frankly modest estimate of US $3 million.
Here’s everything you need to know to wrap your head around a watch that costs as much as a Premier League footballer:
For starters, Patek doesn’t just throw around the term ‘Grandmaster’, it’s a title reserved for the most complicated ever conceived by the horological house.
The Only Watch-exclusive packs 20 unique complications, housing two watches within one case, one on the front, and one on the back. The watch packs a grande and petite sonnerie, a minute repeater, instantaneous perpetual calendar with a four-digit year display, second time zone, day/night indicator, day/date (on both dials), month, leap-year cycle, four-digit year display and 24-hour and minute subdial.
Though Patek has made other Grandmaster Chimes in the past, this is the only one finished in a steel case, an usual choice for Patek historically. There’s only one model of this watch that will ever be made and it’s one of the few Pateks to have both a salmon coloured dial and an ebony black.
The watch is entirely hand finished, with a multitude of different textures and finishes. On the salmon dial you have the ‘Breguet’ style numerals sitting against the textured dial, and on the black side you have a shiny surface with subdials set into it.
Adding to the exclusivity, the watch has on its timekeeping dial the inscription “the only one”, referencing the fact that only one such watch exists.
The price is more than just the dial and the Caliber 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM which took 100,000 hours to build. As Hodinkee points out, the watch may not have a historical backstory to it, but it does boast artistic appeal.
Hodinkee explains “… the watch is coming up at auction in a room full of bidders who may be accustomed to paying tens – sometimes hundreds – of millions for a piece of fine art. All of the sudden, the Patek seems like a deal for what can only be considered the most exclusive watch, or "horological art," ever produced. There's always another level.”
It’s not just an incredibly complicated watch, it’s the ‘only’ such example of all that horological goodness in one place presented in such an elegant way. According to Hodinkee, it is this reason the watch went for over US $31 million.
The watch, along with dozens of others, were made for the bi-annual ‘Only Watch’ event. 100% of the profits made from the sales of the unique pieces go towards research to fight muscular dystrophy.
Here’s a rundown of the functions:
A function that indicates the time via chimes. Without any involvement from the wearer, the watch indicates the hour every hour and every quarter it chimes the hours and quarters.
Similar to a grand sonnerie but it only chimes hours at the hour mark and quarters at the quarter mark, it does not indicate the two simultaneously as a grande version does. On the Patek, the weaer can alternate between ‘silent’, ‘grand sonnerie’ and ‘petite sonnerie’ modes.
A function where the wearer can press a pusher on the watch to have the hours, quarters and specific minutes indicated to them through chimes. Unlike sonneries they can be played on demand instead of autonomously.
A perpetual calendar function can calculate the date, month and year at any given time. Unlike an annual calendar, a perpetual calendar can account for leap years automatically.
A four-year digit year display
A subdial showing which year in a leap-year cycle you’re in.
Second time zone
A function where the watch can display two completely different times, a useful function for travellers needing to know the times across different countries.
A disc within the movement spins around either displaying the day’s sky or the night’s sky.