Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication

by Guillaume V - 12/11/2014

Unless having spent the last couple of days in an isolted area, any watch enthusiast knows about the remarkable event of the Sotheby's Geneva auction this 11th of November. Fifteen years after it was sold for a record-breaking sum, the high complication watch Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication has been auctioned at more than 24 million dollars, re-establishing its status as the most valuable timepiece in auction history, and celebrating with taste the 175th anniversary of the manufacturer.

A great opportunity for us to recall the story of this masterpiece of watchmaking and recount its features, which can “explain” this record selling price.

Ordered to the Patek Philippe manufacturer in 1925 by New York banker Henry Graves, the watch had to be nothing less than the most complicated watch in the world. After 8 years of hard labour, Patek Philippe clockmakers got successful by creating the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, with its 24 complications, delivered to Mr. Graves in 1933, and that remained the world's most complex watch until 1989 when was launched the Caliber 89 and its 33 complications, a watch created by... Patek Philippe.

This yellow gold pocket watch with a diameter of 74mm and weighting 535 g has, engraved at the back, the Graves family coat of arms and its motto “Esse quam videri” which means “To be rather than to seem”. Its movement complications is composed of 99 handmade parts, including: chronograph, minutes repeater with oriental-type Westminster chime, phases of the moon, adjustable calendar, celestial chart, power reserve, sunrise time in New York,... among others.

Tim Bourne, Sotheby's Worldwide Head of Watches, and Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby's Watch Division, said after the auction :

“This evening's record price result confirms the superstar status of the Henry Graves Supercomplication. It is more than a watch, it is an icon of the 20th century, a masterpiece which transcends the boundaries of watchmaking and has earned its place among the world's greatest works of art.”

How could we take issue with them ?


Henry Graves


Patek Philippe Supercomplication Henry Graves