The Most Expensive Patek Philippe Watches Ever: Counting Down the Top 10

The Most Expensive Patek Philippe Watches Ever: Counting Down the Top 10

Founded in 1839 in Geneva, Patek Philippe has long been the gold standard of high watchmaking, pioneering complications and design elements that are now found widely throughout the watch industry — from the first keyless winding system in 1845 to the first annual calendar wristwatch in 1996, with many other innovations and historic timepieces in between. Throughout the maison’s long and prestigious history, watches from Patek Philippe have proven to be among the most coveted and valuable on the watch-auction circuit, making up nine of the 10 most expensive watches ever sold and 14 of the top 20. What are these record-breaking Patek Philippe timepieces, what makes them so special, and exactly how much money did they fetch when the hammer came down? Below, we count down the top 10, ending with the most expensive watch ever sold at auction.

Patek Philippe Gold Chronograph Ref. 1527 ($5.709 million, 2010, Christie’s)

Sold at Christie’s in 2010 and still holding its spot in the top 10 most expensive Patek Philippe watches, this exceedingly rare perpetual calendar chronograph with a yellow-gold tonneau case more than doubled its pre-auction estimate. Its matte silver dial features applied Arabic numerals, a tachymeter scale, and three subdials for chronograph minutes, running seconds, date, and moon-phases. Its movement is stamped with the prestigious Geneva Seal, attesting to its elite level of finishing as well as its chronometric performance.

9. Patek Philippe Titanium Ref. 5208T-010 ($6.226 million, 2017, Christie’s)

Holding the record for second-highest price fetched at the biennial Only Watch charity auction, this one-of-a-kind timepiece is the first and only model of the Ref. 5208 “Triple Complication” to be made with a titanium case. The watch’s three complications, powered by the R CH 27 PS QI movement, include a minute repeater, a monopusher chronograph, and an instantaneous perpetual calendar. Patek also went above and beyond the call for the movement decoration in this piece, adding a black rhodium finish on the bridges and a guilloché treatment on the platinum rotor.

8. Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-018 Tiffany & Co.” ($6.5 million, 2021, Phillips)

Patek Philippe announced it was discontinuing its megapopular Nautilus model (Ref. 5711) in 2021, kicking off a frenzied panic among that watch’s wannabe owners and in effect making the existing examples of it even more unobtainable than before. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, Patek gave the Nautilus a memorable curtain call later that year, producing a limited run of models that would be retailed exclusively through Tiffany & Co., the watchmaker’s longtime U.S. retail partner, and bore an eye-catching Tiffany Blue dial. Out of the 170 pieces, all inscribed with a special 170th anniversary inscription on the caseback and quickly snapped up by Patek’s most devoted, connected, and deep-pocketed patrons, one single piece was put up for auction in December 2021 and acquired for $6.5 million by longtime Patek collector Zach Lu. Proceeds from the sale at Phillips’ New York HQ went to the Nature Conservancy.

7. Patek Philippe Stainless Steel Ref. 5016A-010 ($7.259 million, 2015, Phillips)

Selling for more than $7 million at the Only Watch Geneva in 2015, this steel-cased Patek Philippe combines three elite horological complications: a minute repeater, a tourbillon, and a perpetual calendar with moon-phase. Driven by a 506-part manually wound movement, the watch also features a retrograde date hand that flies back to the beginning of the next month after every 28, 29, 30, or 31 days. Mounted on a dark blue alligator strap, this watch is also desirable for its understated size — just under 37mm in diameter despite its ultra-complex inner mechanism.

6. Patek Philippe Two Crown Worldtime Ref. 2523 “Eurasia” ($7.682 million, 2021, Phillips)

This watch sold for $7.8 million in Geneva in 2021, setting the record price for a watch with a “Heures Universelle” world-time function and simultaneously becoming the highest-selling watch ever in a yellow-gold case. Nicknamed “The Silk Road,” this reference is noteworthy for its cloisonné dial depicting the supercontinent of Eurasia.

5. Patek Philippe Gobbi Milan "Heures Universelles" Ref. 2523 ($8.967 million, 2019, Christie’s)

Dating back to 1953, this extremely rare Patek (another world-timer, of which only seven pieces were made) went on the block at Christie’s in Hong Kong in 2019 and became, as of this writing, the most expensive watch ever auctioned in Asia. Endowed with the “Heures Universelle” function designed by legendary watchmaker Louis Cottier, it has a rose-gold case and blue enamel dial and it’s the only known example of this reference to bear the signature of both Patek Philippe and the prestigious Milan retailer Gobbi. Its silvered outer ring hosts the engraved, enameled names of 40 world cities and encircles a two-tone 24-hour ring divided into gray (nighttime) and white (daytime).

4. Patek Philippe “Prince Mohammed Tewfik A. Toussou” Ref. 1518 ($9,570 million, 2021, Sotheby’s)

This timepiece, in a 35mm rose gold case, with perpetual calendar and chronograph functions, has a noteworthy provenance: it belonged to Prince Mohammed Tewfik A. Toussou of Egypt. The Prince, who acquired the watch in 1951, was a direct descendant of Muhammad Ali, the founder of modern Egypt. The watch was believed to be one of only about 340 pieces that Patek made, and released in 1941. This version, with its copper-pink dial, is even rarer, with only 14 known to exist. The Prince’s heirs consigned it to Sotheby’s in 2021 after his death in April of that year, and it sold for more than $9.5 million at a December 2021 auction in New York.

3. Patek Philippe Stainless Steel Ref. 1518 ($11.137 million, 2016, Phillips)

This perpetual calendar chronograph from Patek Philippe briefly held the title for most expensive watch sold at auction when it went for 9.6 million Swiss francs at a Phillips Auction in Geneva in 2016. Dating to 1941, it is significant in several respects: the reference is the first wristwatch with both a perpetual calendar and chronograph, and it is one of only four total models made in steel — a complicated watch of any kind being an extreme rarity during the World War II years, when most steel was earmarked for the war effort. The 35mm case houses an extensively modified Valjoux caliber with exquisite Patek Philippe finishing.

2. Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication Ref. 198.385 ($24 million, 2014, Sotheby’s)

Henry Graves, Jr., was a New York banker and avid watch collector who, legend has it, was engaged in a competition with fellow tycoon James Ward Packard (of Packard Motors) to become the owner of the world’s most complicated watch. In 1933, the timepiece that Graves commissioned from Patek Philippe, aptly named the Henry Graves Supercomplication, earned that distinction with its 24 complications, blowing away the 10 complications of the watch Patek had made for Packard in 1927. The array of horological functions built into the unique, gold pocket watch include Westminster chimes, perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times, and a celestial map of New York as seen from Graves's Fifth Avenue apartment. After Graves died in 1953, the watch changed hands several times throughout the years, and was auctioned for the first time by Sotheby’s in 1999, bought for a then-record price of $11,002,500 by Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al Thani of the Qatar Royal Family. After his death, the watch was auctioned again by Sotheby’s in 2014, sold to an anonymous buyer and breaking another record.

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 ($31.19 million, 2019, Christie’s)

Patek Philippe unveiled the first Grandmaster Chime watch in 2014 as part of the many celebrations around the Genevan maison’s 175the anniversary. The reference that made history at the Only Watch auction in Geneva in 2019 was a unique piece, the only Grandmaster Chime ever crafted in stainless steel; the Grandmaster Chime models in Patek’s regular collection are all made in precious metals. The watch is the most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch ever made (distinguishing it from the maker’s most complicated pocket watch, as detailed above), with 20 complications, displayed on two dials, one ebony black, the other salmon, for each side of the swiveling, reversible case with its elaborate hobnail guilloché-patterned sides. Among the cornucopia of complications are two patented world-premieres —  an acoustic alarm that chimes at a pre-programmed time and a date repeater that can strike the date on demand — along with a Grande and Petite Sonnerie, moon-phases, and a perpetual calendar. In the tradition of the biennial Only Watch auction, proceeds from the staggering, record-breaking hammer price of $31 million went toward research into a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.


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