Patek Philippe’s most complicated watch ever is due to go on sale at Sotheby’s in Geneva, with an estimate of $6.4m – $9.9m. The Calibre 89 pocket watch was unveiled to the world in 1989 to mark the 150-year anniversary of the Swiss watchmaker; at the time it was the world’s most complicated watch, a record that held until 2005.
The Calibre 89 was able to hold the record thanks to its 33 complications – a complication being any feature beyond the displaying of hours and minutes. As well as traditional timekeeping functions, the timepiece also has calendar functions, chronograph functions, and chiming functions.
A feature rich timepiece
Some of the most notable features on the clock face of the watch include a days of the month indicator, in an arc underneath the numbers on the top half of the face. Just below this, two windows inlaid into the watch face tell the user the year, as well as whether or not it is a leap year. Lower down on the watch, two windows indicate the day of the week, and the month.
Three smaller dials on the south, west, and east sides of the watch face displaying more data for the user. The south dial has a seconds hand, while also doubling up to show moon phases. The west dial has an elapsed time indicator (ETI), that runs up to twelve hours, while the east dial has an ETI that runs up to 30 minutes.
Flip the watch over, and you’ll find many more features, including a zodiadc signs guide, a celestial chart, a sunrise and sunset indicator, as well as many more. That a watch is able to execute so many functions simultaneously is a testament to Patek Philippe’s horological engineering.
A rare opportunity to pick up a historic watch
This is the first time the Calibre 89 has been up for sale since 2009, when it sold at auction for $5m. Items like this don’t crop up at auction very often, so if you’re interested in them, you have to take the opportunity when it arises. As already discussed, the Calibre 89 looks set to smash its previous sale price, with the low-end estimate at $6.4m.
The current record for an auction sale of a pocket watch is $24m, another Patek Philippe, in fact. The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, built in 1933, sold at Sotheby’s for the world record fee in 2014. Interestingly, the watch was the most complicated watch in the world for over 50 years, until its 24 complications were bested by none other than the Calibre 89, with 33.
With an estimate much lower than $24m, it’s hard – but not impossible – to see the Calibre 89 breaking the world record. However, stranger things have happened. In the auction environment, two or more determined bidders can drive prices into the stratosphere. It might sound like a cliché to say ‘anything can happen’ but in the world of auctions, there’s a certain truth to that statement.
So if you want to make this watch yours, start making plans to be in Geneva on May 14th, or plans to participate in the sale remotely. To find out more information, take a look at the Sotheby’s site, which also details other watches available in the sale: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2017/important-watches-ge1701.html
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