Watches like Rolex and Tag Heuer with their six-figure price-tags and famous patrons are the mark of the super-rich. Sometimes however, an eccentric billionaire just can’t find the watch they need and have to call in the master craftsman of Patek Philippe. That’s exactly what Henry Graves Jr did in 1932.
He commissioned a watch that is both breathtaking in its design and mind blowing in its complication. This watch not only tells the time but it shows the night sky as seen from Graves apartment in New York. The celestial map rotates with the sky and maps the correct spacing and magnitude of the stars. It also chimes the sound of the Westminster chimes, maps the phases of the moon, has a perpetual calendar and can tell you the time of sunrise and sunset.
The watch was last wound over 40 years ago and since then hasn’t skipped a beat and is working exactly as it was intended. With a calendar that adjusts for leap years, stopwatch, alarm and its celestial map, some people have called this the world’s first supercomputer.
In a time when most of us look at our smart phones to tell the time, it’s hard to imagine quite how 900 tiny pieces of metal and springs could create a timepiece of such outstanding precision. It’s unlikely that the skills still exist to make an analogue watch of this character and as a result the Supercomplication would be the crown jewel of any watch collectors collection. It last changed hands in 1999 and sold for a cool $11 million. Of course Patek Philippe still make some of the worlds greatest watches for some of the world’s most exclusive clients so even if you can’t get your hands on this one, there will still be a breathtaking timepiece out there to add to your collection.