Friday, October 30, 2009
The famous Graves Complication - one of the most complicated watches ever made - was completed in 1933. In 1999 it was sold at auction for $11 million, making it the world's most expensive watch at the time.
The Graves Complication arose out of an informal competition between Henry Graves Jr and James Ward Packard of Ohio. These two - very rich - men each commissioned a series of ever more impressive watches from the Patek Philippe watch company during the 1920s.
The Graves Complication was the end result of this horological "arms race". It was commissioned in 1930 and completed in 1933. It was a grand complication pocket watch - one which featured more than one complication. In horological terms a "complication" is any extra feature beyond basic timekeeping functions.
This watch was at the time one of the most complicated ever built (it has since been outdone by the Calibre 89 "ultimate" watch). It included numerous complications including split-second chronograph, moon phases and even a chart of the night sky over Graves' home in New York!
Where Is It Now?
When Henry Graves died the Graves Complication went to the Time Museum in Illinois. When the museum closed in 1999 the watch was sold at auction and fetched just over $11 million. It was purchased by an anonymous bidder and has since disappeared from view, probably into a private vault somewhere.
Which is a loss to the world of horology. Hopefully it'll re-emerge one day and return to public display.
One of the top 10 most expensive watches in the world. -11millions