Sale of Patek Philippe’s Graves pocket watch sets record

A unique gold complications pocket watch, by Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe, sold on Nov. 14 for a record $1.98 million in Geneva, Switzerland, in an auction of Christie’s International watch department.

The price is the highest for any watch—pocket or wristwatch—ever sold by Christie’s,  Adrienne Hines, vice president and head of the watch division of Christie’s New York, told JCK. The price, which almost doubled top pre-sale estimates, capped a classic auction-room bidding battle, the auction house said in a statement. It was won by a private museum in Switzerland. Christie’s officials wouldn’t release the name, but industry sources say it is Patek Philippe’s own museum in Geneva.

The 18k gold watch, one of the important watches of the 20th century, has 12 different complications or complex functions (such as moon phases and perpetual calendar). It was created over an eight-year period by Patek Philippe’s master watchmakers at the request of Henry Graves Jr., a New York financier and avid watch connoisseur. It was delivered to him in 1926, and is still considered one of most complicated and sophisticated watches ever made.

Another pocket watch made for Graves by Patek Philippe—the 1933 “Super Grand Complication”—sold for $11 million a few years ago, the most ever paid in any auction for a watch.

The sale of all 371 pocket and wristwatches in Christie’s “Important Pocket watches and Wristwatches” auction totaled $12.16 million, also the highest amount for a sale in this category ever staged by Christie’s.

Other record setters included an exceptional single-button chronograph wristwatch, also by Patek Philippe, which sold for $1.36 million, the highest price ever for a wristwatch sold at Christies.