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Sotheby’s To Re-Auction The Patek Philippe Supercomplication, The Most Expensive Pocket Watch Ever

Sotheby's To Re-Auction The Patek Philippe Supercomplication, The Most Expensive Pocket Watch Ever Sales & Auctions

When Sotheby’s sold the Patek Philippe Supercomplication in 1999, it became the most expensive watch ever sold, fetching a whopping  $11,002,500. Or did it? Actually, as Bloomberg revealed in 2012 based on some court documents, the winning buyer, Qatari Royal Family member Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani has never paid up for it – along with another $70 million worth of other lots that he purchased at Sotheby’s auctions. Consequently, after this exceptional, one of a kind timepiece has spent some 13 years with an owner who basically possessed it for free, the Patek Philippe Supercomplication finally returned to Sotheby’s. Today, the auction house has announced that this incredibly complicated, two-faced pocket watch that Patek originally made in 1933 for its astute collector Henry Graves Jr., will be up for auction once again in November, 2014 as the centerpiece of Sotheby’s Geneva November 2014 Watch Sale.

Sotheby's To Re-Auction The Patek Philippe Supercomplication, The Most Expensive Pocket Watch Ever Sales & Auctions

For over fifty years, from its conception in 1933 until 1989, the Patek Philippe Supercomplication had been the most complicated watch Patek Philippe ever made. And while the Caliber 89 offered more complications, the Patek Philippe Supercomplication rightfully remains one of the most important and most desirable timepieces in the world. Its two dials, 24 complications, more than 900 parts and a weight of over 1 pound, this 18 karat gold pocket watch pushed the limits of mechanical complexity way beyond any other watch ever produced before. Among other complications, it features a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater with Westminster Chimes, sidereal time, and a celestial chart with a mapping of the sky over Manhattan.

It should come as no surprise then that this truly incredible piece had reserved the number one spot in our article about the rarest and most expensive Patek Philippe watches ever. With that said, the estimate this time around tells us it will only strengthen its deserved position, as the Patek Philippe Supercomplication is expected to sell for around 15 million Swiss francs (or about $16.8 million). And since the sale coincides with the 175th anniversary of Patek Philippe, we feel we are likely going to see it exceed even this already stratospheric estimate.



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  • trj66

    ? Enlighten me please: how come is an object bought on an auction handled over to the “buyer” before said person has paid the winning amount of money? What have I misunderstood in the article – or in the rules of auctions?

  • Feller87

    trj66  when dealing with royal family members these petty rules dont apply

  • thornwood36

    Silly Billy………….it must have fallen behind the settee

  • Ulysses31

    Let’s be reasonable.  Eleven million is a lot of money for a sheikh with a lot of financial commitments.  Those terrorist groups don’t fund themselves.

  • Jimxxx

    Royal goat herder

  • Fraser Petrick

    I’ll start the bidding at $100 and the LA Clippers.

  • You sure there is only one of these?

  • F it – I’ll just bid a Trillion dollars (or francs, dubloons, sheckles, whatever currency is preferred) for it right now and circumvent the entire process. I don;t actuially have top pay, and i’ll get to enjoy the damn thing for more than a decade before anyone actually remembers that I didn’t pay. 

    Way to have pride of ownership in your work, Sotheby’s.

  • AccdiModa

    WOW! Can’t believe that he’s owned it for so long and never paid! At least this beauty will have the opportunity to have a new owner! Can’t wait to see who scoops up such an important and iconic timepiece!

  • trj66

    Feller87 trj66 Stupid me…

  • yongc

    The Bloomberg article never said that the Sheikh bought it in 1999. It went under the hammer to an anonymous bidder in 1999, and he’s merely the current owner.

  • TWadeJ

    I enjoy reading A Blog To Watch’s posts but am amazed by the grammatical errors, poor writing and factual errors which occur more often than they should in a blog of A Blog To Watch’s status.  For example, the Bloomberg article, relied upon by the author of this blog post, does not say that the Sheik was the bidder in 1999 or that the bidder in 1999 failed to pay for the Patek.  The Bloomberg article simply states that the Sheik put the Patek up as collateral for monies owed to the auction house.

    As a fellow attorney, I urge Ariel to have A Blog To Watch’s articles reviewed for factual and grammatical accuracy before publication.

  • TWadeJ Thanks for the note. Our writer David drafted this article, and English is his second language. He is getting better, and we applaud him diligently working to write in English more and more as he learns. Also, our understanding, compounded by a few sources indicates that the Sheik never paid for the item in full, even if the referenced article does not support that particular fact. We will see about linking to other evidence in support of the non-payment. Thanks so much for the helpful comment.

  • smoothsweeper

    Thanks for the reporting. The watch is historic and full of merit, but perhaps leave the value judgement for the reviews? “Deserved” is rather subjective when dealing with non-intrinsic value. Sure there is plenty of value in the materials it’s made of, as well as the man-hours it took to make it, but nowhere close to 11 million worth. Building an exact replica would cost far, far less as well.

    Frankly I’d like to see these Patek auctions drop the absurdity down a few notches. It’s no wonder why the prince was given so much leeway. Selling for a high price (even one that doesn’t pan out) is very good in the long term for everyone involved. Immediately re-auctioning the watch would’ve probably lowered its value. So they let the guy hang onto it, and now they’ll net a higher price – something even prospective buyers will want since they’re hoping to sell it in a few years for even more.

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