So, what is the difference between an everyday watch and one that cost tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars? They both tell the time pretty accurately.
An expensive watch or timepiece is a true status symbol. It’s a classic item that you wear every day, like jewellery. It can be meaningful to you – in that it was given to you by someone special, or to mark a special achievement or milestone such as a promotion or turning 21.
Or it could just be that old chestnut – the status symbol. The outward manifestation of your success and wealth – lucky you! And while expensive handbags are definitely the territory of women, expensive watches seem to be more of a men’s trophy item. Used in the same way that women use expensive handbags – to indicate their superiority and impress other men!
Some people are utterly obsessed with watches. And they are very cool. A piece of great craftmanship, precious materials, history and awesome technology strapped to your wrist can definitely give one a little extra swag.
Know your Horology Terminology!
And if you’re a real buff, you’ll know that there is both a science and an art to creating beautiful timepieces, it’s called horology. The science lies in measuring time accurately (yes, Einstein would disagree that this is even possible), while the art lies in crafting the timepieces. You can even get a degree in horology!
And, while we’re on horological terminology, I thought you should know what a ‘Complication’ is, in watch-making terms. It is anything a watch offers further than telling the time and simple date. Examples are annual and perpetual calendars, dual time zones and World Time displays.
So, rather than create a boring ‘list’, lets delve into some of the various ways that timepieces have come to command super-hefty price tags.
The Historical Piece
Breguet Grande Complication Marie- Antoinette
OK, it’s more of a pocket watch than a wrist watch, but it is utterly and completely amazing on so many levels!
There’s the price – a freezing cool $30 000 000.
It’s exquisite to look at, with its myriad of mechanisms, skeleton dial, golden case and rubies and sapphires. It is described as a ‘poem in clockwork’, and one look at it confirms this entirely.
The history is astounding! It was commissioned to be made for the 18th Century French Queen Marie Antoinette, by one of her many lovers. Marie Antoinette was an admirer of the Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, and had several other timepieces of his.
The timepiece was constructed between 1782 and 1827, so took a mere 45 years to complete. Which means ol’ Marie Antoinette unfortunately had her head chopped off 34 years before it was finished. And Breguet’s son completed the watch 4 years after his father’s death.
The fascinating history of this watch doesn’t stop there. It was stolen from a museum in Jerusalem in 1983, and then reappeared in 2007, to be housed in the Mayer Museum in LA. What happened between those years? Mystery!
The Jewel Encrusted Piece
Talk about a ‘little bit’ of bling! Dripping in diamonds is no exaggeration when describing this amazing piece. Telling the time seems almost superfluous!
Created by the Swiss-based house of Chopard, it features clusters and clusters of diamonds, including a 15 carat pink diamond, a 12 carat blue diamond and an 11 carat white diamond, in addition to another 163 carats of ‘other’ white and yellow diamonds. The three ‘biggies’ are heart shaped, and slide away via a spring-loaded mechanism, to reveal the watch face. Diamond-studded, naturally.
This $25 million watch is not just made out in the open! Every single part is 100% handmade in secret manufacturing locations and under major security. Delivering to the owner is cloak and dagger too – 4 layers of security are applied. Imagine being the recipient – how exciting!
The Iconic Rolex
Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona
In 1968, actress Joanne Woodward gifted her dashingly handsome, blue-eyed husband with a racing driver’s specialist watch, brought out by the prestigious watch-makers, Rolex.
The husband in question is none other than Paul Newman. On the back of the watch, Joanne inscribed:
The Daytona (later, the Paul Newman Daytona) Rolex was a limited run of around 2000 sports watches released by Rolex, for around $200 at the time. They have become highly-prized collector’s pieces, but none take the price tag of THE collector’s item, Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Rolex Daytona.
It’s collector’s value goes beyond it’s value for watch collectors. It appeals to motor sports enthusiasts, movie enthusiasts and American history enthusiasts as well.
The whimsical art deco style and iconic piece of Americana fetched a cool $17.8 million at auction.
The Swiss Watchmakers Classic
Patek Phillipe Ref 1518
The horologists at Patek Phillipe have been making beautiful, technologically perfect timepieces since 1839. The Patek Phillipe Ref 1518 was fist released in 1941 and was the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph wrist watch that also showed moon phases.
Of the known 281 that were made, most were encased in yellow gold, 55 were made with rose gold and only four made of stainless steel.
In 2016, one of the 4 stainless steel ones was sold for $11 million.
Well, timing is everything! Get out there and make your mark in time, NOW!