When one thinks of luxury watch companies, one of the first brands that come to mind is Patek Philippe, a Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1839. You may also have heard your favorite urban poet or hip hop artist namedrop a Patek Philippe watch in one of their braggadocious songs.
Patek Philippe is one of the oldest continuously operating watchmakers in the world. The company has a reputation for making some of the most complex watches. This often fetches the watches a high market price. The uniqueness of Patek Philippe watches also makes them some of the best collectible luxury timepieces you can buy.
Consequently, Patek Philippe watches are highly sought after during auctions. Among the ten most expensive watches in the world, eight were manufactured by Patek Philippe. This is a testament to Patek Philippe’s craftsmanship. Although the Graff Diamonds Hallucination watch was valued at $55 million when unveiling it at Baselworld 2014, the watch receives a lot of criticism for having a basic timepiece. Its price is pegged on the value of its colored diamonds and not the technology incorporated into the watch. In fact, the Graff Diamonds Hallucination watch is often considered jewelry.
Thus, this article will focus on the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010, which became the most expensive watch in the world after an auction in late 2019. Read on for more details.
Quick Facts About the Most Expensive Watch in the World
|Manufacturer||Patek Philippe SA|
|Name||Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010|
|Watch Type||Wrist Watch|
|Case Diameter||47.7 mm|
|Number of Complications||Twenty|
|Auction Date||November 9, 2019|
|Auction Price||31,000,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) $31.2 million USD|
As mentioned earlier, Patek Philippe watches are unlike ordinary watches; they have more than an hour, minute, and second hand. In this case, the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 is one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world, with about twenty complications. Patek Philippe borrowed the complications from an earlier Grandmaster Chime model, the Ref. 5175, released to commemorate the company’s 175th anniversary in 2014. As a result, the Grandmaster Chime watches have 1,366 parts dedicated to movement and 214 case parts. This is mind-blowing, considering most standard watches only require about 130 components to function optimally. It also makes a strong case why the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 ended up being the most expensive watch in the world.
However, before we look at the internal complications, let us explore the exterior. The first thing one notices is the glossy stainless steel frame. The Ref. 6300A-010 is the only Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime watch with a stainless steel frame, with the rest having gold or platinum frames. The stainless steel frame was not a design mistake! It helps keep the watch humidity and dustproof.
Another striking feature of the Ref. 6300A-010 is its reversible dual dials. Patek Philippe dedicated the first dial to time measurements and the secondary dial to calendar measurements. The time dial has a rose gold face, while the calendar dial has a black ebony face. Regarding measurements, Ref. 6300-010 has a case diameter of 47.7mm and a thickness of 16.07mm. Lastly, the watch has hand-stitched black alligator leather straps with square patterns. The mention of ‘hand-stitched’ when talking about luxury brands and pieces is always a huge selling point and likely inflates the price by several thousand dollars.
Now let us look at the immediate internal details on the time dial. The first detail is the Brequet numerals on the time dial face and the words “The Only One” inscribed almost at the device’s center, giving the watch some flair. The watch also has a second-hour hand which indicates the time in a second time zone of the user’s choosing, and a moon phase indicator. Above the word “Philippe” is a small aperture indicating whether it is day or night in the second time zone.
On the flip side, the calendar dial has an instantaneous perpetual calendar. A window in the face’s middle indicates the year’s four digits. Above the central aperture is a time indicator, and to the aperture’s right is a month indicator. On the left of the aperture is a day-of-the-week indicator. Lastly, below the aperture is a date indicator, and a leap year cycle indicator is within the date indicator.
The more complex specifications of the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 are its acoustic functions. The watch has five auditory functions, with two being patented technology.
How the Watch Works
The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 derives its name from its chiming functions. Patek Philippe built the watch’s frame around a grand sonnerie, a petite sonnerie mechanism, and a minute repeater. Sonnerie refers to making a sound that, in the case of the Ref-6300A-010, happens with the aid of three hammers. In grand sonnerie mode, the watch strikes the hour and quarter-hour every fifteen minutes. On the other hand, petite sonnerie mode strikes the hours then the quarter hours every fifteen minutes.
If the grand and petite sonnerie have not impressed you, then the minute repeater will surely get your attention! The Ref. 6300A-0101 also has a minute repeater, a complication that alerts the user to the time down to the minute. The minute repeater only works when prompted by the user. When activated, it chimes in three different tones of varying intensity. The first, a low tone indicates the hour; the second, a two-tone sequence indicates the quarter hour; and the last, a high tone indicates the minute. For example, if the time is 10:57, the hour chime will strike ten times, followed by the quarter hour chime, which will strike thrice to indicate 45 minutes, and finally, the minute chime will strike twelve times for a total of 57 minutes.
The watch has an instantaneous perpetual calendar on the calendar dial with an aperture indicating perpetual year. It also shows the month, date, day, and leap year with the help of four analog hands. The watch also chimes the date. It has a two-tone chime that indicates ten days and a high-tone chime that indicates precise dates. Therefore, users hear a two-tone chime followed by five high-tone chimes on the fifteenth of the month. The watch also has an alarm that can accurately chime the time. Lastly, the Ref. 6300A-010 also has a second hour hand set using two buttons located at 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock.
You may not fully appreciate the masterpiece that is the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 until you learn the history behind its design and craftsmanship. As mentioned earlier, Patek Philippe has a reputation for making complicated watches. As such, the company had to uphold its reputation as it approached its 175th anniversary, a milestone that made it one of the oldest continuously operational watch brands.
The result was a commemorative collection called The Grandmaster Chime Collection, launched in 2014. This was after 100,000 hours of research, development, production, and assembly. After the success of the initial Grandmaster Chime collection, Patek Philipe chose to incorporate the watches into its regular watch lineup in 2016. The 2016 lineup included watches made from white gold and a 2019 collection of white gold and rose gold watches.
Patek Philippe then chose to make a unique stainless steel Grandmaster Chime watch as a way to give back to society. The watch borrowed the expertise gained in developing earlier models but presented new challenges as stainless steel is not commonly used to make grand complication watches. The final product was presented at the Only Watch auction in November 2019.
The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 is a unique, yet-to-be-replicated timepiece. The only one available was the piece that was auctioned in November 2019. However, other watches are available in the Grandmaster Chime collection though they are less unique than the Ref. 6300A-010.
The original Grandmaster Chime collection consisted of only seven Ref. 5175 watches. Patek Philippe then introduced the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 models in 2019. The Ref. 6300 models are now part of the company’s regular collection and heavily borrow properties seen in the original Ref. 5175 models and the one-of-a-kind Ref. 6300A-010. Some available Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 models include the 6300GR-001, the 6300/400G-001, the 6300/401G-001, and the 6300/403G-001.
The Auctioning of the Watch
Patek Philippe watches are a staple at high-end auction events, with a majority of the most expensive watches belonging to the brand. The auctioning of the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 begins with Patek Philippe’s relationship with the Only Watch auction.
The Only Watch auction is a charity event founded in 2005 by Luc Pettavino with the help of Prince Albert II of Monaco. The auctions help channel resources to the research of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disease that affects one out of every 3,500 people, primarily boys from age 4.
The Only Watch auctions happen biennially and bring together watch collectors and enthusiasts from different parts of the world. The events’ attractions are some of the rarest timepieces in the world from the most prestigious watchmaking companies, including Patek Philippe, which has provided a watch for every edition of the auction. Previous Patek Philippe watches sold at the auction include the titanium Patek Philippe 5208T-010 sold for 6.2 million Swiss Francs in the 2017 edition, and the stainless steel Patek Philippe 5016A-010 sold in the 2015 edition for 7.3 million Swiss Francs.
The Only Watch Auction 8th Edition
Christie’s Auction House hosted the eighth edition of the Only Watch auction on November 9, 2019, in Geneva. The auction started at 2 PM with the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 designated Lot No. 28. The starting bid for the watch was 5 million Swiss Francs. However, the bid price rose quickly, with offers of 17 million and 20 million Swiss Francs made before the auctioneer accepted a final bid of 31 million, making the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 the most expensive watch in the world. This record-breaking auction will remain in the history books for decades to come.
Altogether, the 2019 edition of the Only Watch auction raised 38,593,000 Swiss Francs, aided primarily by the record-breaking sale of the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 630A-010. Check out highlights from the auction in the video below!
Patek Philippe is masterful at making watches with grand complications. The company took watchmaking to a new high with the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010. The stainless steel watch with two dials, twenty complications, alligator leather straps, and intricate details is a watch collector’s dream. No wonder it is the most expensive watch in the world.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Rustic and Watches/Shutterstock.com.