Which are the most expensive watches in the world?
Most good quality watches are pretty expensive — but what makes a Breitling, an Audemars Piquet or a Baume & Mercier, more sought after than other brands? Often history comes into play, where hundreds of years of watchmaking tradition have produced brand names that cost thousands, even millions of dollars. Another factor is the high quality materials and manufacturing processes used in expensive watches which is far above those used in lesser brands.
The top ten most expensive watches include state-of-the-art crafted automatic movement parts, and are built by highly skilled craftsmen with exceptional designs. Here we look at ten of the most expensive watches in the world — many of which cost more than a house or a Ferrari.
10 STEVE McQUEEN’S ROLEX SUBMARINER ($234,000)
Features: Classic Oyster design with new innovative technology
The Submariner is designed in Rolex’s classic Oyster design, and is water-resistant to a depth of 1,000 feet. Its case middle is a corrosion-resistant stainless steel design, including a unidirectional-rotating 60 minute graduated bezel with a black insert that is scratch proof. The Rolex hour markers and hands feature quality luminescent materials which emit a blue glow that lasts longer than other luminous watches.
Its functions include central hours, minutes and seconds; stop-seconds function for precise time-setting, high-precision regulation via four gold Microstella nuts; traversing balance bridge; 31 jewels; and approximately 48-hour power reserve.
McQueen was known as the king of cool, and watches don’t get much cooler than the Rolex Submariner.
9 JAEGER-LeCOULTRE GYROTOURBILLON 1 ($400,000)
Features: platinum 700 parts: two-cage multi-axis tourbillon, a perpetual calendar, retrograde power reserve, monthly indicators, yearly indicators, sapphire crystal base, and other quality complications.
The perpetual calendar displays four retrograde hands. The internal coloring is a striking blue or silvery grey.
The firm behind the watch was founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1833 when he started a watchmaking workshop in a small town in France. Although he was self taught, he learned everything he could from master timepiece craftsmen and devoted is life to achieve absolute precision and reliability.
His devotion was carried forward by his son and grandson. Each LeCoultre generation invented unique innovations. A collaboration between Jacques-David LeCoulture and Edmond Jaeger created the current brand name.
8 Audemars Piquet ROYAL OAK GRANDE COMPLICATION ($560,000)
The Royal Oak Grande Complication is a self-winding masterpiece so will continue to operate long after its wearer’s demise. The AP Royal Oak Grande Complication features some of the complications that other luxury watches contain in its class, however, it is purposefully designed to be simpler to operate.
It is one of the pinnacles of a journey which started out in 1875 when watch craftsmen, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piquet joined forces to create their dream of the perfect complex wristwatch.
The AP tradition continues today and remains in the hands of the founding families. The brand name has invented many firsts in wristwatch technology and continues to be leaders in chronometer innovations.
7 VACHERON CONSTANTIN TOUR DE L’ILE ($1,500,000)
Features: Varied complications and two jeweled faces
Vacheron is one of the oldest watch manufacturers, founded in 1755 in Geneva by Jean-Marc Vacheron. The craftsmanship that went into the Vacheron Tour De L’ile highlights how the firm’s renowned engineering quality has remained solid throughout the centuries.
6 FRANCK MULLER THE AETERNITAS MEGA 4 ($2,400,000)
Features: 1,483 separate components
Franck Muller opened his now famous watch-making firm in 1991, receiving immediate admiration from world renowned timepiece makers. He had previously attained a reputation for being one of the world’s prominent watch restorers, but turned his attention to watch making and was an instant success.
Every year, Franck Muller releases his new collections, all made from precious metals and gemstones. His watches are a favourite of celebrities, worn by stars including 50 Cent and Demi Moore.
5 THE PIAGET EMPERADOR TEMPLE WATCH ($3,500,000)
Features: Mother-of-pearl and Diamond Face. Over 1200 carats of baquette styled diamond stones and flawless diamonds.
This watch allows the wearer to open its face in two different levels. The first level opens to the mother-of-pearl face and the second level features a larger face with one-minute tourbillon and a power reserve index hand, while the bracelet itself is surrounded with 350 baguette-cut diamonds.
The Piaget Emperador Temple Watch is a wearable diamond mine, and is more than a watch — as it serves as a bracelet as well. Georges Edouard Piaget was a Swiss timepiece maker in 1874, whose works included pocket watches and clocks, and was followed by his son who began the manufacture of wristwatches. Piaget is one of the most prestigious jewelry brands in the world.
4 LOUIS MOINET METEORIS WATCH ($4,600,000)
Features: Fossils, Asteroid and Meteorite material
The 17th and 18th centuries identified Louis Moinet as an extraordinary artist, stone engraver, a master watchmaker, and president of Europe’s Chronometry Society. The Louis Moinet collections are now located in Saint-Blaise, Switzerland, and is run by the master watch creator, Jean Marie Schaller who retains the uniqueness of the Moinet name.
All Louis Moinet timepieces are limited and exclusive editions, and are mechanically mind-boggling. Historical figures to have worn a Louis Moinet include Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Tsar Alexander I, King George IV of England, and Napoleon.
3 THE BREGUET MARIE ANTOINETTE ($10,000,000+)
Features: 823 intricate mechanisms
The Swatch Company later acquired Breguet produced the replica.
The Breguet Marie Antoinette features a plethora of intricate complications and has more working intricate pieces than a smartphone. History again plays a role in the world importance of a Breguet. The founder, A.L. Breguet (1747 – 1823) was renowned as a world class watchmaker and his heirs continue the Breguet horological custom and design today.
2 PATEK PHILIPPE – HENRY GRAVES – POCKET WATCH ($11,000,000)
Features: 18-carat gold. 24 quality mechanical movements. 36mm glass cover
This gold watch took five years to make due to its extremely complicated functions, which include an up-to-the-minute astrological chart; a melodic minute chime that mimics London’s Big Ben; a perceptual calendar; different chronological functions for each hour; and a two-faced moon phase which displays the 24 separate mechanical complications.
The Swiss Patek name in watchmaking was begun in 1839 in Geneva by the Polish immigrant Antoni Patek and Franciszek Czapek. In 1844, they ended their watchmaking collaboration and Patek joined with French craftsman Adrien Philippe, forming the Patek Philippe Company in 1851.
The firm manufactures their own components, and their watches are world renowned and always bring in high price. In the past their watches have been worn by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Christian IX, Princess Louise of Denmark, Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, and Hussein Kamel, the Sultan of Egypt.
1 CHOPARD 201 CARAT WATCH ($25,000,000)
Features: 874 diamonds
The Chopard 201 Carat watch is set in a diamond cluster bracelet with flawless diamonds in the shape of flowerets in white, yellow, pink, and blue. This extraordinary artwork features a spring-loaded mechanism, that when pressed allows its 3 heart shaped flowerets to open up, like a flower’s petal.
The total number of carats is 201. The face of the Chopard watch has a pavé-set display, with small round, yellow diamonds set underneath heart-shaped diamonds. The Chopard name began as a Swiss family business in the early 1800s and went through 150 years of generational craftsmanship.
The Scheufele and Chopard manufacturing unit of the Chopard family business continues to create excellent Chopard collections keeping their timepieces at an extremely high standard.