The 25 Most Expensive Watches Ever Sold at Auction

In the realm of watch auctions, several other brands make a significant presence despite not making it to the top 25. Towards the end, we will highlight the highest-selling watches from these brands, as well as from other watchmakers, both big and small, who have recently entered the upper echelon. Patek Philippe and Rolex, the clear leaders in this category, offer an expected abundance of watches. In this article, we will go through the list of the top 25 watches, starting from the highest price they fetched on the auction block. Alongside this, we will shed light on some timepieces with captivating backstories and remarkable technical achievements. In today’s thriving watch auction market, the answers and the sums involved may surprise you. Now, let’s explore how expensive the most expensive watches ever sold are. What if they were previously owned by someone famous or historically significant? What if they were one-of-a-kind or record-breaking in terms of complications? How much would you be willing to pay for such a watch?

Table of Contents

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

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Only Watch 2019

The research towards finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy received a staggering record-breaking hammer price of $31 million from the proceeds of the biennial Watch Only auction. This auction is a perpetual calendar and moon-phases watch, along with Sonnerie Petite and Grande complications. It has patented world-premieres, including a repeater that can strike the date and time at a pre-programmed acoustic alarm chime. Among the cornucopia of complications, the most complicated watch in Patek Philippe’s regular collection is the Grandmaster Chime wristwatch, displayed on two dials – one salmon guilloché-patterned hobnail and the other black ebony. All the metals used in this watch are made of precious materials. The steel version of the Grandmaster Chime is the only one ever crafted in stainless steel, making it a unique piece. This reference made history at the 2019 Watch Only auction in Geneva, as part of the maison’s 175th anniversary celebrations. The first Grandmaster Chime watch was unveiled by Philippe Patek in 2014.

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

Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication

The watch was auctioned again in 2014 by Sotheby’s, breaking another record and being sold to an anonymous buyer. After his death, the watch was first auctioned in 1999 by Sotheby’s and changed hands several times throughout the years. The unique gold pocket watch includes a celestial map of New York’s Fifth Avenue, perpetual calendar, Westminster chimes, and functions of various horological complications. Named the Supercomplication, this timepiece was commissioned by Henry Graves Jr. From Patek Philippe and had 10 complications, earning it the distinction of being the most complicated watch in the world. It was made for Packard in 1927 and James Ward Packard, a fellow watch collector and avid banker from New York, engaged in a competition with Graves to become its owner. This watch has become a legend in the watch collecting community.

3. Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona Reference 6239 ($17.75 million, 2017, Phillips)

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman Ref 6239

The most expensive Rolex watch ever sold remains the 17.75 million dollar model that was auctioned off after being consigned by the Newman family, who had kept the watch within their possession for nearly 50 years. The watch, acquired in 1968, had a special significance to Paul Newman, as it was a gift from his wife, actress Joanne Woodward. The watch featured an engraved caseback with the affectionate note “Me – Carefully Drive,” as well as a tachymeter-scale engraved bezel and contrasting black subdials on an off-white dial, making it easily recognizable. With a stainless steel diameter of 37mm, the watch made a significant impact when it went up for auction in October 2017 in New York. It came as no surprise that this particular watch, nicknamed the “Newman Paul Daytona,” was among the most valuable timepieces on the secondary market. Paul Newman, a legendary actor and motorsports enthusiast, famously wore this rare and highly sought-after Rolex Daytona wristwatch during his successful racing career.

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

Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 steel

5. Patek Philippe “Prince Mohammed Tewlik A. Toussou” Reference 1518 ($9,570 million, 2021, Sotheby’s)

Patek Philippe Prince Tewlik

6. Patek Philippe Gobbi Milan “Universal Hours” Ref. 2523 ($8.967 million, 2019, Christie’s)

Patek Philippe Gobbi Milan

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

Patek Philippe Two Crown Worldtime Eurasia

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

Patek Philippe Only Watch 2015

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

Patek Philippe Nautilus Tiffany & Co.

Phillips’ New York headquarters was where the Conservancy Nature went to sell a single piece, which was acquired by longtime collector Zach Lu for $6.5 million. In December 2021, the piece was put up for auction and quickly snapped up by deep-pocketed patrons and devoted collectors connected to Patek. The special 170th anniversary inscription on the caseback made it even more desirable, along with the eye-catching Blue Tiffany dial. This particular Nautilus model, the 5711 Ref., Was exclusive to Tiffany & Co., Patek’s longtime retail partner in the United States. However, Patek unexpectedly decided to discontinue the megapopular Nautilus 5711 Ref., Making it even more unobtainable and causing a frenzy among watch enthusiasts and owners who were hoping to acquire one.

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

Patek Philippe Only Watch Titanium

11. Rolex Daytona Gold “Unicorn” Reference 6265 ($5.937 million, 2018, Phillips)

Rolex Daytona "Unicorn

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

Patek Philippe Ref. 1527

13. Patek Philippe Worldtimer Guilloché Ref. 2523/1 ($5.53 million, 2020, Phillips)

Patek Philippe Worldtime

14. Rolex “Paul Newman Big Red” Daytona Reference 6263 ($5.48 million, 2020, Phillips)

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman

At the racecourse, Woodward’s ongoing concern for the actor’s safety with blue eyes is evidenced by the inscription “Drive Carefully – Joanne” on the back of the case. Newman was known to frequently leave the screw-down chronograph pushers of the stainless steel case unscrewed so that he could quickly use the stopwatch to time his laps in the race. The so-called “Big Red” Daytona, with one of its three white registers on the black dial, earned its nickname from the red-script “Daytona” above the subdial at 6 o’clock. Purchased by Joanne Woodward in 1983 and worn by her husband until his death in 2008, the Daytona, owned and worn by the actor and racing driver Newman, went up for auction a few years after the record-breaking sale of Paul Newman’s Ref. 6239 Daytona, consigned by its owner Clea Newman Soderland, Newman’s daughter.

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15. Philippe Dufour Grand and Small Chiming Watch No. 1 ($5.21 million, Phillips, 2021)

Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie No. 1

The enamel dial with its Roman numerals and small seconds sundial is elegantly classical. The striking mechanism, which can be set by sliding levers, is a complex chiming mechanism that independently strikes the quarter hours and minutes on demand, making it a marvel of miniaturization. The movement is lavishly finished and was made in 1992, boasting a yellow gold case measuring 41mm. This wristwatch, No. 1 in the Sonnerie Petit et Grande series, belongs to Dufour’s most expensive record-breaking watch sold by an independent watchmaker. The brand is known to fetch enormous sums at auctions for its timepieces, and Philippe Dufour, the Swiss watchmaker, is renowned for his independent royalty watchmaking.

16. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon Unique Piece Ref.26620IO ($5.2 million, 2021, exclusive sale)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Black Panther

Star athletes and vocal AP ambassadors LeBron James and Serena Williams were present, with comedian Kevin Hart hosting a celebrity event in 2021. The item was not sold at an auction house but rather at a celebrity event in 2021 hosted by comedian Kevin Hart. Positioned above the flying tourbillon on the dial is a hand-painted 3D figure of the ruler of that nation, the character Black Panther from Marvel, also known as Price T’Challa. Additionally, there is a hand-engraved design inspired by the fictional African country of Wakanda. The large and artistic Royal Oak Concept case features a hand-engraved design inspired by Wakanda and a hand-painted 3D figure of the nation’s ruler, Marvel’s Black Panther character, positioned above the flying tourbillon. The first of these pieces was a unique one in white gold, while an additional 250 pieces were made in titanium. Audemars Piguet collaborated with entertainment giant Marvel to create a series of luxury timepieces, in anticipation of the significant 50th anniversary year for their iconic Royal Oak collection.

17. Rolex “Emperor Bao Dai” Reference 6062 ($5.06 million, 2017, Phillips)

Rolex Emperor Bao Dai Ref. 6062

In 2017, the most expensive Rolex watch in the world, known as “Đại Bảo” or “Greatness of Preserver” in English, was auctioned off for $5.06 million. This vintage Rolex model, a 36mm elegant yellow-gold watch, belonged to Prince Thụy Vĩnh Phúc Nguyễn of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last Vietnamese emperor and the 13th emperor. He purchased the watch in Geneva while attending an international conference in 1954, shortly before being ousted from power. The dial of this famous Rolex watch bears the indication of the month, date, day of the week, and a moon-phase feature, making it a unique and valuable timepiece. When we think of valuable Rolexes, we usually think of sport watches like the Submariner and Daytona, but this classic vintage Rolex is one of the most expensive watches ever auctioned.

18. Patek Philippe Yellow Gold Caliber 89 Pocket Watch ($5.042 million, 2009, Antiquorum)

Patek Philipe Gold Pocket watch

19. Patek Philippe White Gold Caliber 89 Pocket Watch ($5.003 million, 2004, Antiquorum Auction House)

Patek Philippe white gold pocket watch

20. Patek Philippe Stainless Steel Reference 130 ($4.987 million, 2015, Phillips)

Patek Philippe Stainless steel

21. F.P. Journe x Francis Ford Coppola FFC Blue ($4.93 million, 2021, Christie’s)

F.P. Journe x Coppola Only Watch

The offer to buy at least one unique and unusual display time was completely rejected by the buyer. This famous film, known for its iconic references to combinations of fingers and thumbs, begins the next cycle at 6 o’clock with a single thumb. When all five digits are pointing at 5 o’clock, evidence of the previous cycle can be seen. At 2 o’clock, both the middle finger and index finger are pointing, for example, while all the fingers are closed in a fist at the tip of the glove, indicating the minute. The hour is cleverly displayed by deploying the fingers, dominated by a large blue glove, on the unusual dial of the Blue FFC-cased tantalum watch. This unique piece, which took center stage at the Only Watch 2021 auction, became the highest-selling watch in the brand’s indie watchmaking history, thanks to the collaboration between director Francis Ford Coppola and watchmaker Paul François-Paul Journe.

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22. Breguet “Breguet and Sons,” Paris No. 2667 Accuracy 4 pocket watch ($4.68 million, Christie’s, 2012)

Breguet et Fils No. 2667 pocket watchThe oldest timepiece in the top 25 most expensive watches sold at auction is a rare pocket watch made circa 1814 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the legendary inventor of the tourbillon escapement and one of history’s most influential watchmakers. The case is made of yellow gold and engraved with a unique, distinguishing number. The engine-turned dial hosts a minute track and subdials with Arabic and Roman numerals, one with yellow-gold hands, the other with blued hands, one for local time and one for mean time, and a small central sundial for the seconds. The gilded brass movement inside the 63.7mm case is actually made up of two independent mechanisms, both with their own barrels, a remarkable horological feat at the time, along with pare-chute suspension and blued Breguet free-sprung balance springs.

23. Patek Philippe Henry Graves Minute Repeater ($4.67 million, 2019, Christie’s)

Patek Philippe Graves watch

24. George Daniels Yellow Gold Space Explorer I pocket watch ($$4.561 million, 2019, Sotheby’s)

George Daniels Space Traveler I

25. George Daniels Yellow Gold Space Explorer’s II pocket watch ($4.325 million, 2017, Sotheby’s)

George Daniels Space Traveler 2

Honorable Mentions:.

The Priciest Omega Watch: Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Ref. 2915-1 ($3.42 million, Phillips, 2021, #41)

Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow

The logo on the “O” oval and the plain black metal bezel of the Omega Speedmaster in this first model’s generation are distinguishing features. This version, known as the “pre-Moonwatch,” demonstrates the growing popularity of Speedmasters, with an estimated selling price of more than $3.5 million. Its past blew past the $80,000-$120,000 estimate. The movement is the manually wound Caliber 321, and it has the classical “Broad Arrow” hands. The model from 1957, with its “tropical” brown dial, is the most expensive Omega Speedmaster ever sold. This record-breaking piece is spotlighted in the same auction as Philippe Dufour’s offering at Phillips in 2021.

The Priciest Vacheron Constantin Timepiece: Vacheron Constantin King Fuad I No. 402833 ($2.77 million, Antiquorum, 2005, #61)

Vacheron Constantin King Fuad I pocket watch

The movement is equipped with two barrels, accessed by a single keyless winding crown, which provides the additional energy required for the train’s striking mechanism. Behind the caseback, there is a French inscription that translates to “Tribute to His Majesty King Fuad I, from the Swiss Community of Egypt.” The watch features a perpetual calendar with moon-phase indication, a split-seconds chronograph, and a petite and grande sonnerie with two hammers and three gongs, all powered by two gear trains. Among its array of complications are two striking functions. This immensely complicated and historically significant 18k yellow gold pocket watch was presented to King Fuad I of Egypt in 1929 by the Swiss expatriate community, and it is a testament to Vacheron Constantin’s long history of creating timepieces for crowned heads throughout Egypt’s modern history, including the country’s first monarch, King Fuad I.

The Priciest TAG Heuer Timepiece: Heuer Monaco Ref. 1133 “Steve McQueen” ($2.208 million, 2020, Phillips, #90)

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