Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication
|Also called||The Supercomplication|
The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication is one of the most complicated mechanical pocket watches ever created. The 18-karat gold watch has 24 complications and was assembled by Patek Philippe. It was named after banker Henry Graves Jr who commissioned it out of his desire to outdo the Grande Complication pocketwatch of American automaker James Ward Packard. The two were both at the top of the watch collecting world, regularly commissioning innovative new timepieces.
It took three years to design, and another five years to manufacture the watch, which was delivered to Henry Graves on January 19, 1933. The Supercomplication was the world’s most complicated mechanical timepiece for more than 50 years, with a total of 24 different functions. These included Westminster chimes, a perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times, and a celestial map of New York as seen from the Graves's apartment on Fifth Avenue. The record was bested in 1989 when Patek Philippe released the Patek Philippe Calibre 89, but the Supercomplication remains the most complicated mechanical watch built without the assistance of computers.
Henry Graves spent 60,000 Swiss francs (US$15,000) when he commissioned it in 1925. Adjusting for inflation, the sum is roughly US$202,000, measured in 2014 dollars. The Supercomplication previously held the title of the most expensive watch ever sold at auction, with a final price of 24 million US dollars (23,237,000 CHF) sold in Geneva on November 11, 2014 until the sale of the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime at the Only Watch charity auction at Christie's in Geneva in 2019.
December 2, 1999
Henry Graves Jr. died in 1953. His daughter Gwendolen inherited the Supercomplication and in 1960 passed it to her son, Reginald ‘Pete’ Fullerton. In 1969, Mr. Fullerton sold the piece to Seth G. Atwood, founder of the "Time Museum" and an industrialist from Illinois, for US$200,000 (equal to some US$1.2 million today). After that, the watch had been kept in the Time Museum in Rockford, Illinois, one of the leading horological museums in the world, which was shut down in March 1999. (From January 2001 through February 2004, some of the Time Museum collection was displayed at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, then sold.)
The watch was held in the Rockford Time Museum until it was sold at Sotheby's for a record breaking $11,002,500 to an anonymous bidder in New York City on December 2, 1999. The owner was later known to be a member of the Qatari Royal Family, Sheikh Saud bin Muhammed Al Thani. Prince Sheikh Saud died on November 9, 2014, and the watch was sent to auction again.
November 11, 2014
On July 10, 2014, Sotheby's announced that in November 2014, the pocket watch would once again be auctioned. On November 11, 2014, the watch was sold in Geneva, Switzerland. The final price, bid via proxy for an anonymous entity, reached 23,237,000 Swiss Francs, equivalent to US$24 million at the time. The sum was the highest price that anyone has ever paid for a timepiece, including both pocket watches and wrist watches.
Construction and complications
The timepiece contains 920 individual parts, with 430 screws, 110 wheels, 120 removable parts, and 70 jewels, all of them handcrafted on a tiny scale. The timepiece is a gold, double-dialled and double-openfaced, minute repeating clockwatch with Westminster chimes, grande and petite sonnerie, split seconds chronograph, registers for 60-minutes and 12-hours, perpetual calendar accurate to the year 2100, moon-phases, equation of time, dual power reserve for striking and going trains, mean and sidereal time, central alarm, indications for times of sunrise/sunset and a celestial chart for the night time sky of New York City at 40 degrees 41.0 minutes North latitude. Its diameter is 74mm; thickness of case with glass 36mm; and weight of case 536g.
The Supercomplication features the following 24 functions.
- Hours, minutes and seconds of sidereal time (3 functions)
- Time of sunset and sunrise (2 functions)
- Equation of time
- Perpetual calendar
- Days of the month
- Days of the week
- Stars chart
- Age and phases of the moon
- Split seconds
- 30-minute recorder
- 12-hour recorder
- "Grande sonnerie" (Westminster chimes) with carillon
- "Petite sonnerie" with carillon
- Going train up-down indication
- Striking train up/down indication
- Twin barrel differential winding
- Three-way setting system
- Perman, Stacy (2013). A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World's Most Legendary Watch. Atria Books. ISBN 1439190089.
- Wilson, James (2012). The Illustrated Directory of Watches: A Collectors Guide to Over 1000 Timepieces, from Classic Designs to Luxury Fashionware. Chartwell Books. ISBN 0785829148.
- Thompson, David (2008). The History of Watches. Abbeville Press. ISBN 0789209187.
Other supercomplicated pocket watches include:
- The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 (57 complications)
- Patek Philippe Calibre 89 (33 complications)
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- June 21, Nicholas Manousos; 2018. "Historical Perspectives: Rarely Seen Documentary Video Featuring George Daniels And Seth Atwood". HODINKEE. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
- "The Time Museum". www.timemuseum.com/. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
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- "World's Most Expensive Timepieces". bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani: Sheikh who became Qatar's". The Independent. 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Clymer, Benjamin (July 10, 2014). "BREAKING NEWS: Sotheby's To Sell The Henry Graves Patek Philippe Supercomplication This November". www.hodinkee.com. Hodinkee. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- "THE HENRY GRAVES JR. SUPERCOMPLICATION PATEK PHILIPPE & CO., GENEVA, NO. 198.385, CASE NO. 416.769, STARTED IN 1925, COMPLETED IN 1932 AND DELIVERED ON 19TH JANUARY 1933". sothebys.com. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
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