While many luxury brands boast collections that include attainable items and luxury goods that can be purchased as style accessories or investment pieces by a wide pool of wealthy buyers, virtually all of the top designer brands create the odd one-off piece – designed to be leagues above the rest of the collection in terms of material and value. Oftentimes, these one-off pieces are brought to life for specific purposes or clients, be it a royal engagement or a Hollywood A-lister’s red-carpet moment.
But, regardless of why they are created, looking at the designs and price tags of these one-off pieces can be exceptionally eye-opening. And it’s not just one-off pieces that make the list of most expensive luxury goods on the market, with this blog unveiling one or two timepieces that come from limited collections of a select number of goods.
So, why watches? While diamonds and handbags all fall under the luxury goods category, for some reason watches are ranked as some of the most coveted luxury goods in the world, for both men and women. The top watch brands available to buy denote status as well as wealth, with specific models elevating in value as soon as they leave the original retail site.
In this blog, we’re looking at some of the most expensive watches ever sold, spanning brands including Rolex and Patek Philippe, as well as Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille. But first, a few fun facts.
Facts About the World’s Most Expensive Watches
In a report on the most expensive watches sold at auction as of December 2021, the top ten were all either from the Patek Philippe or the Rolex collection – with an 80:20 split accordingly. Of course, these are only watches that were sold at auction, and it doesn’t take into account private sales – something we will look at in the next section of this blog – however, it’s interesting because of the distinct favour shown to these two brands.
Rolex and Patek Philippe are both considered highly sought after, owing to the innovative design of their watches, as well as the high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. The professional collection from Rolex has long been considered the peak of precision and support for athletes, while the exquisite charm and timeless design of the Patek Philippe collection have kept the brand at the top of the industry since 1839.
But what are the most expensive watches ever sold – and which other brands besides these two are considered high in value?
The Most Expensive Watch Ever Sold
It won’t surprise you to learn, first and foremost, that Patek Philippe falls into the top three most expensive watches ever made, and is the only one in the top three that is known to have sold. The Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 was sold at auction in 2019 for $31 million – but, while it was successfully sold, it’s not the most expensive watch ever made.
That title goes to The Graff Diamonds Hallucination watch, which is said to be worth $55 million, and features a colourful array of diamonds adding up to 110 carats in total. The watch is not exactly functional, and boasts only a tiny dial at the centre of the diamond bracelet – however, it works as a watch from a design perspective, so must be considered within the timepiece category.
Coming back to the Patek Philippe Grandmaster, ranked as the most expensive timepiece ever sold, it’s important to recognise this as not only the most valuable but also the most complex and sophisticated watch ever made by the brand. It supposedly took over 100,000 hours to make, housing 20 individual complications. A worthy claimant of the title for most expensive watch in the world and to have reached the auction bench.
Other Notable Watches That Have Sold for Incredible Amounts of Money
Moving on to other timepieces and watches that have sold for vast amounts of money, it’s worth noting that most of the timepieces garner multi-million dollar price tags as a result of the diamonds and materials used in their design and creation.
Another feature that pushes specific timepieces to the top of their market is the link between watches and notable names and faces – something which is particularly prominent when looking at any Rolex worn by James Bond, or indeed by race car driver Paul Newman. The Paul Newman Rolex from the Daytona collection is another incredibly coveted model, which sold at auction in 2017 for upwards of $18 million. The specific model was commissioned by Newman’s own wife, and was engraved with a message for him – something which only served to push the value higher.
Other entries in the list of the most expensive watches ever made include the following models:
- Patek Philippe Stainless Steel Ref: 1518
- Patek Philippe Stainless Steel Ref. 5016A-010
- Patek Philippe Titanium Ref. 5208T-010
- Rolex Daytona Unicorn Ref. 6265 – a watch that was sold by its commissioner, John Goldberger, for the Children Action charity
- Patek Philippe Gold Chronograph Ref. 1527
All of these timepieces, and others in the collection of most expensive watches ever produced, pushed buyers well into the millions – making them not only symbols of incredible wealth but a part of the history of the brand.
Is a Luxury Watch Worth the Investment?
Sure, most buyers can’t afford the kinds of watches listed in this blog – but that’s not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t invest in your own luxury timepiece. Whether for your own personal style and collection, or as an investment piece, the top luxury watches are made to the highest standard, with refined craftsmanship and some of the most valuable materials in the world.
These watches can collect huge prices at auction and on the second-hand market, with reputable resellers seeking models from the top brands, including both vintage and modern models. If you’ve got a piece to sell, or you’re looking for your own luxury timepiece to boost your collection, get in touch with a reliable reseller to browse their collection and seek advice on authentication, valuation, and more.