Henry Graves (banker)

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Henry Graves, Jr. (1868-1953) was an American banker descended from John Graves of Concord, Massachusetts.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born March 11, 1868 in Orange, New Jersey into a prominent banking family, the son of Henry Graves Sr. (1838-1906),[1] a founder and partner in the Maxwell & Graves banking firm.[2][3] Graves, Jr. made millions of dollars in banking and railroads.[3] He was also an art collector whose single-owner sale was held in 1936 by American Art Association Anderson Galleries, Inc., which evolved into Sotheby's. The highlight of that sale was Albrecht Dürer's Adam and Eve which sold for an impressive $10,000.[2]

Watch collector[edit]

An ardent watch collector, Graves was a patron of Patek Philippe, competing with James Ward Packard, the famed automobile manufacturer, for ownership of the most complicated watch in the world.[3] In 1927 Packard commissioned the world's most complicated watch but not to be outdone, Henry Graves surpassed his rival in 1933 to become the owner of the most complicated watch ever made, spending 60,000 SF, nearly five times the price paid by Mr. Packard. It took over three years, and the most advanced horological technique in engineering this truly one-of-a-kind timepiece; only one watch was ever built. Complications included a perpetual calendar with phases and age of the moon, indication of sunrise and sunset, and a celestial chart depicting the stars in the nighttime sky over New York City.[4]

It was called "the Supercomplication" and designed and built by Patek Philippe, an ultra-complicated (with 24 functions) pocket-watch sold to Mr. Graves in 1933. This pocket watch, "the Supercomplication" was held in the Museum of Time near Chicago, Illinois from 1968 [4] until it was sold at Sotheby's for a record breaking $11,002,500 to a secretive anonymous bidder in New York City on December 2, 1999.[5][6] The watch resides in the Patek Phillippe Museum [7] in Geneva, Switzerland and is the most expensive single piece on display.[8][9] On July 10th, 2014, Sotheby's announced that on November 14th, 2014, the famed watch would once again be auctioned off. [10]

Personal life[edit]

Henry Graves, Jr. married Florence Isabel Preston on January 21, 1896 in New York City.


Graves died on March 21, 1953 in New York City.


Further reading[edit]