Most of us have grown up listening; ‘time is gold’, which generally is one of the most over-used phrases. But watch brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe have taken the quote quite literally and seriously! Why so?
Few of the Rolex and Patek Philippe timepieces top the list of the world’s most expensive watches, and we’re talking about seven-figure here. Yes, you read that right. Some of you might wonder the cause behind this massive pricing, which technically you should. But this time, we have put in a little more effort to find out what goes into making these watches or gems that result in an incredible price.
What’s behind the 7-figure price tag?
7 factors behind the 7-figure price tag are:
- Research & Development
- Other factors like marketing, labour, etc
List of the Top 7 most expensive watches in the world
Patek Philippe Models:
- Ref. 1518
Let’s get to the core. Below are the exclusive details we found after careful examination of each of the timepieces that result in a whopping amount. Take a deep breath & dive in!
1953 Patek Philippe Ref.2523
Patek Philippe is one of the most desirable watchmakers presently in existence. Perhaps you already know that a double-signed luxury timepiece holds great importance. For instance, a Rolex sold by Tiffany & Co is stamped with Tiffany’s logo and has great value.
Similarly, the Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 is a rare ‘double-signed’ watch that comes in pink-gold and features Patek Philippe’s logo and name, alongside the jeweller’s name. Here, we are talking about the one sold by the Milanese retailer, Gobbi. Furthermore, it is the only double-signed Patek Philippe Ref.2523 available, with two or three ever made. It features the signature of both Patek Philippe and Gobbi Milano.
The 1953 Patek Philippe Ref.2523 is gorgeously crisp and comes with a luxurious 18ct pink-gold case and a blue enamel dial. It is a two-crown world time watch piece with 24-hour indication. In terms of function and design, it is sheer beauty!
- Year: 1953
- Case Size: 35.5mm
- Movement: Manual
- Material: 18ct Pink Gold
1943 Patek Philippe Ref.1518
Another exceedingly rare and impressively expensive timepiece from PP is Ref.1518. It was the world’s first perpetual chronograph wristwatch that set the standard for Patek Philippe over the years to come. A larger portion of this Ref. is in yellow gold, with only around 20% made in pink-gold. The watch comes in stainless steel (a desirable factor), and with its classic style and hearty innovations, have become an icon.
Each Ref.1518 comes with pristine cases and original dials that have a hard-enamel signature with warm tones throughout. The cases are thick with a narrow band, with the date correctors pushed to the 12 o’clock position. Two subsidiary dials for the 30-minute register and constant seconds is at 3 and 9 o’clock, respectively. An enchanting moon phase indicator is present at 6 o’clock, with the outer edge featuring a raised tachymeter scale.
Back in those times, there was no provision of the sapphire case, so the skilled craftsman does the magnificent hard work you see. The Ref. 1518 is arguably the most complicated timepiece coming in a simple metal, which intrigues the curiosity.
- Year: 1943
- Case Size: 35mm
- Movement: Manual
- Material: Stainless Steel
1946 Patek Philippe Ref.1415
The first time the Patek Philippe Platinum Ref. 1415 went for auction in April 2002, it broke the world record by becoming the most expensive watch sold. Even though the watch no longer holds the title of ‘most expensive’, it surely enjoys a great deal of attention as a sought-after watch piece. This one-of-a-kind timepiece indicates 41 countries, cities or regions, with silver dial and platinum numerals. The night-time hour sector makes for a pleasing contrast with the engraved city names that bestow the watch with a nice monochromatic appearance.
The dial that comes with a silver plate has Arabic numerals in platinum, and then there are other References available with baton numerals. The ingenuity of the movement enhances the beauty of the watch. The wearer can first set the local/ meantime through the crown. Then they can adjust the outer ring by rotating it until the person’s global location comes up at the 12 o’clock position. Once this is adapted, it’s done!
The two-tone hour ring presents the world locations in the daytime by the silvered portion and nighttime by the grey section. The 24-hour dial perfectly matches the centre dial and boasts the original engraved enamel numerals with two fully decorated suns, one dark and one shining present respectively, at 18 & 12 hours.
- Year: 1946
- Case Size: 31MM
- Movement: Manual
- Material: Platinum
2019 Patek Philippe Ref.6300A-010 ‘Only One’
The most expensive Patek ever sold is the Ref.6300A-010, where you get not one but two dials for one price! Yes, the timepiece boasts two dials, one at the front and the other on the back. The Grandmaster Chime flaunts 20 different complications that include:
- 5 different chiming modes (Name Reference)
- Date Repeater
- Acoustic Alarm
This is the only stainless steel, with ‘Only One’ also being featured on the dial at 12 o’clock, hence the name. But that’s not the only reason. The manufacturers created the ‘Only One’ variant for a specific cause. The world’s top-watch makers make exclusive watches for the Biennial Charity Auction to raise money, and it was Patek’s entry in 2019.
The watch has a manually wound mechanical movement and comes with a strike-work isolator marker and a second-time zone with a night/day indicator. The dial has both the day and the date with month and the leap year cycle by the hands, a four-digit year display, and a 24 hours and minute sub-dial.
The dial looks gorgeous in rose gold with gold-applied Breguet numerals. Undoubtedly the watch stands out for its impeccable sophistication and functionality.
- Year: 2019
- Case Size: 47.7mm
- Movement: Manual
- Material: White Gold
Rolex Paul Newman Ref.6239
No matter when and where you choose to browse through the list of most expensive watches, the Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref.6239 is bound to pop up. The watch needs little or no introduction. Gifted to the famous racer by his wife, the watch exudes brilliance, exclusivity, and success. The watch has the words ‘Drive Carefully’ engraved and comes in an unusual cream and black exotic dial with an elegant Art-Deco style.
The only thing that makes the Paul Newman Daytona a ‘Newman Daytona’ is the dial, that’s it. A small step in the dial is present between the centre and the outer minute track. The white steel dial looks crisp, and the Ref.6239 features a 200 unit graduated steel bezel and pump pushers. The watch flaunts a three colour dial in black, white, and red with the word ‘Daytona’ featuring at 6 o’clock. The dial offers plenty of detailing, and it is the presence of the square markers on the 3 sub-dials which gives it the name ‘Paul Newman’.
- Year: 1968
- Case Size: 36mm
- Movement: Valjoux 722 movement
- Material: Stainless steel
1970 Rolex Ref. 6265
The Rolex Ref.6265 is the second-most expensive Rolex ever sold, and the reasons are quite compelling. Daytona, as you know, was meant to be a regular sports watch, and therefore, the decision to make it luxurious in white gold came shocking! Since the very beginning, watch collectors have gifted monikers like Hulk, Pepsi, batman, and President to the Rolex watch pieces. The white gold Ref.6265 is the ‘Unicorn’, a unique variant manufactured in 1970 and comes with a steel bezel with a tachymeter track for measuring speeds.
The watch features a black sigma dial with white gold indexes. The crown is stainless steel compared to the pushers, made of white gold. For a very long time, it was under the strict surveillance of famous private watch collector John Goldberger who decided not to put the watch for sale, ever! Eventually, he changed his mind and sold the watch to benefit a foundation named Children Action to help the lives of youth globally.
So far, there is no white gold Daytona available in the market. The gold hallmarks present in the lugs certify the exclusivity of the timepiece. The white gold bracelet comes with a bark finish, which the new owner of the watch has reportedly added.
- Year: 1970
- Case Size: 37mm
- Movement: Manual
- Material: 18ct white gold
Rolex Bao Dai Ref. 6062
The Rolex Bao Di Ref.6062 is the world’s most expensive Rolex, which held its position for 15 years. Prince Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy, most famously known as Bao Dai, attended the Geneva Conference in 1954 when he surprisingly walked from his hotel to a nearby jeweller. No, it was not just any regular jeweller but a Rolex retail outlet where Bao Dai asked for the most valuable and rarest Rolex timepiece. He received the Rolex Ref. 6062. It was a beautiful and luxurious yellow gold watch with a full calendar.
The watch had a triple calendar marking the day, date, month, and moon phase complication. The Bao Dai watch is one of the only three black dial models, set with diamond hour markers on the even hour numbers. On the other hand, the other two versions feature six diamond markers on the odd hours. There are words ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’ below the moon phase display at 6 o’clock, and there’s a diamond marker at 12 o’clock.
It is the unique dial design of the watch and, of course, its limited quantity that makes it so attractive. There are diamonds, a black dial, and an exciting story; what else do you need?
- Year: 1950
- Case Size: 36mm
- Movement: Automatic
- Material: Yellow Gold
In Our Words
All the listed timepieces serve as a functional asset and showcase some of the top watch brands’ most complex engineering and craftsmanship of all time. The watches have elements gracefully fitted inside the tiny boxes. The billion-dollar watches boast luxury gemstones and the stories that come with them make them even richer. The rarest iterations sell at millions & billions of dollars, and it is worth it!
After all, the unique mechanisms, pleasing aesthetics, and skillful craftsmanship deserve acknowledgement, verbally and financially. No matter what it takes to curate these expensive watch pieces, purchasing one won’t only give you an asset of a lifetime and beyond but also a major satisfaction for having a bit of history in your closet.