On The Auction Block: Appreciation of Complications

About fourteen years ago, nearly a month shy of the 21stCentury, Sotheby’s held a historic sale highlighting the Graves Supercomplication pocket watch. Following a fervent bidding war by two anonymous bidders, the timepiece sold for a record-breaking $11,002,500. Come this November, the Graves Supercomplication is to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s for the second time. Henry Graves commissioned Patek Philippe to design and craft this watch in 1933 for an astonishing $67,253, or $1,230,734 when taking inflation into account. Graves’s rationale for this creation was to possess a watch far more complicated than that of his watch-collecting adversary, James Ward Packard. The watch boasts a perpetual calendar with a moon phase/age indicator, a celestial chart of New York’s nighttime sky, a minute repeater, and 21 other, literally grand, complications. 

At $17,000,000, I believe Sotheby’s has set their estimate way too high. In my opinion, the original, extraordinary hammer price stemmed only from the excitement in the air during that sale. Still, fill out those bidder registration sheets and get your paddles ready as the Graves Supercomplication hits the auction block, this time in Geneva, once again.

Luke Rottman (Executive Editor: thewatchadviser.com)