Friday, July 18, 2014

Breaking News from Sotheby's: the 'Holy Grail' of timepieces is to be auctioned off

It was recently announced that Sotheby's will be auctioning off Henry Graves 'Supercomplication' timepiece.  “The list of superlatives which can be attached to this icon of the 20th century is truly extraordinary.  Indisputably the ‘Holy Grail’ of watches, The Henry Graves Supercomplication combines the Renaissance ideal of the unity of beauty and craftsmanship with the apogee of science,” Tim Bourne, Sotheby's Worldwide Head of Watches,and Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby's Watch Division, said in a joint statement.  

The 18k yellow gold, openface watch, which boasts 24 complications, took 8 years to create; 3 years of research followed by 5 years of labor. It started in 1925, when Henry Graves, a prominent New York banker and possibly the greatest horological collector of the 20th century, commissioned Patek Philippe to produce the world’s most complicated timepiece. The finished product was pure horological perfection.  As  mentioned earlier, the watch contains 24 complications, which includes- moon phases, sidereal time, power reserve, perpetual calendar, and can indicate the time of sunrise and sunset. If you're wondering what a complication is, we have the answer for you. We asked Eric Norrbom, one of our master watchmakers to explain the detail to our readers. “Basically, a complication is anything on the watch in addition to the basic time function.  Therefore,  all watches that have a calendar, have a complication. There are many other complications for watch features, such as the repeater (which has a gong function used to "chime" the time, some just chime hours and/or half/quarter hours, whereas some have a chime to tell the precise minute), the Annual calendar (compensates for months with 30 days), and the Perpetual calendar (compensates for months with 30 days AND leap years), the tourbillion, the moon phase.”  Eric goes on to say the Henry Graves watch isn't just about how many complications it has, but the fact it was ALL made by hand, and made extremely well! 

Mr. Graves pocket watch held the title for most complicated until a watch with 33 complications surpassed it in 1989. Although the Patek Philippe Cailbre 89 may have more complications, it was built with the help of computers, which makes the Supercomplication one of the most treasured watches in the world.

News of the auction coincides with Patek’s 175th anniversary. Time will tell how much this piece will go for in auction but it’s safe it say it could fetch up to $17 million.

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