Life is transient and even the strongest empires fall with time, yet there is something about undisputed titles that captivates the minds of the masses, elevating extraordinary achievements into legends and myths. Perhaps this is what encourageed New York-based businessman Henry Graves Jr. to commission the world’s most complicated timepiece made by hand by Patek Philippe - Supercomplication a title that is yet to be taken by any living human.
The cost of the prestigious title was around $15,000 in 1925, an amount that seems silly, compared to its last recorded auction price of $24,000,000. That is a 1667-times rise in the value of a timepiece that less than a dozen people in the world have even touched. However, what he got in return was the services of some of the best watchmakers in Switzerland, who worked tirelessly for over 8 years, to bring the vision into reality.
The result was a double-sided, 18k masterpiece that combines 24 different “complications” in three-stacked tiers. It took them over three years just to design the creation that would eventually take 920 individual parts, 430 screws, 110 wheels, 120 removable parts, and 70 jewels to create. All of the pieces were also handcrafted individually on a tiny scale.
It is hard to even visualise the complex structure that requires so much minute machinery, yet every single piece is essential to execute its hefty list of functions, which include: a minute repeating clock watch with Westminster chimes, a split-seconds chronograph, grande and petite sonnerie, mean and sidereal time, registers for 60-minutes and 12-hours, moon-phases, equation of time, a perpetual calendar accurate to 2100, dual power reserve for striking and going trains, a central alarm, indications for sunrise and sunset, and even a celestial chart of the night time sky over the original owners New York City home.
All of this amazingly comes together in a neatly structured open-faced design that has roman numerals on one side and modern digits on the other. All of this sits in a special gold case that is 36mm thick, with a diameter of 74mm and weight of around 536g. It certainly is a mind-boggling testament to human ingenuity that will be praised for its craftsmanship, for ages to come.