Watches are timeless and functional accessories, with pocket watches dating back to the early 1500s. They’re also some of the most collectible items in the world, not just a fashion accessory but representative of history and culture as well.
The more rare luxury watches and those with unusual or bespoke features can easily fetch several million dollars, particularly at auction. Talk about haute horlogerie.
Here, we take a closer look at the world’s top 10 most expensive luxury watches. Brace yourself: The least expensive one on this list still comes with a seven-figure price tag.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 most expensive watches in the world to date.
1. GRAFF DIAMONDS HALLUCINATION – $55 MILLION
Topping the list of the word’s most expensive watches is the Graff Diamonds Hallucination. Unveiled at the Baselword watch and jewelry fair, this unprecedented watch is made up of 110 carats of diamonds. Diamonds of all colors, including Fancy Pink, Fancy Yellow, Fancy Green, and Fancy Blue, and cuts, including emerald, heart, pear, marquise, and round, are combined to create this spectacular timepiece.
2. GRAFF DIAMONDS THE FASCINATION – $40 MILLION
Known for their luxurious diamond jewelry items, Graff Diamonds created The Fascination watch, which contains 152.96 carats of diamond with a center diamond that is a 38.14-carat D Flawless pear shape. The center diamond detaches into a ring that can be worn separately.
3. BREGUET NO. 160 – $30 MILLION
The original version of this watch was allegedly commissioned for Marie Antoinette by one of her lovers. Abraham-Louis Breguet began working on the watch in 1782, and Marie Antoinette was executed before its completion in 1827 by Breguet’s son. The watch included every known complication at the time, including a thermometer, chime, and perpetual calendar. The watch was on display at the L.A. Mayer Museum in Jerusalem until it was stolen in 1983. The watch was eventually recovered and is still on display at the Mayer museum today.
4. CHOPARD 201-CARAT WATCH – $25 MILLION
This stunning watch contains 874 diamonds, totaling 201 carats, in an array of colors. The center of the Chopard watch is comprised of three heart-shaped diamonds in yellow, pink, and blue.
5. PATEK PHILIPPE SUPERCOMPLICATION – $24 MILLION
This gold pocket watch was created in 1933 by Patek Philippe for banker Henry Graves Jr. The watch took 5 years to design and build and features 24 complications, including a perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times, and a celestial calendar from Graves’ apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York.
6. JACOB & CO. BILLIONAIRE WATCH – $18 MILLION
The Billionaire Watch contains 260 carats of emerald-cut diamonds, 167 individual components, and 19 jewels. The bracelet and watch face are one seamless construction made in 18K white gold.
7. PAUL NEWMAN’S ROLEX DAYTONA – $17.8 MILLION
A gift from his wife, movie star and race car enthusiast Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona sold for a staggering $17.8 million in 2017. Art deco in style, the 1968 Daytona reference 6239 was engraved with “Drive Carefully, Me” by wife and actress Joanne Woodward. Paul went on to gift the watch to his daughter’s boyfriend at the time, who donated a sizable amount of the sale to the Nell Newman Foundation.
8. PATEK PHILIPPE REF. 1518 – $11.1 MILLION
In late 2016, the stainless steel-cased Patek Philippe ref. 1518 sold at auction for just over $11 million. Patek Philippe produced the 1518 model in 1941, making it the first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch every produced in a series.
9. VACHERON CONSTANTIN 57260 – $8 MILLION
Including 57 complications, 2826 individual components, and 242 jewels, Vacheron Constantin’s 57260 watch is a technological and artistic feat. This watch took 8 years to design and create, and is estimated to have been commissioned for $8 million for a private client.
10. HUBLOT BIG BANG – $5 MILLION
Hublot’s Big Bang watch contains 1,282 diamonds in total, including more than 100 carats of baguette diamonds and 6 emerald-cut diamonds weighing more than 3 carats each. Beyoncé purchased this watch for Jay-Z as a birthday present in 2012.
WHAT MAKES WATCHES SO EXPENSIVE?
The primary factors that determine how much a luxury timepiece is worth are:
- Materials used
These factors all work in conjunction to determine the ultimate value of a watch. The precision, craftsmanship, labour and skill that go into luxury watches is what sets them apart from other watches. Rolex watches, for example, are all handle assembled and the brand has their own foundry that makes the gold they use in their watches.