FEATURE: Sale of Graves’ Supercomplication pocket watch fetches notable sum at auction

If you have been following our blog articles as we tracked the build up to the auction of Henry Graves’ Supercomplication pocket watch. 15 years ago, the Supercomplication went under the hammer $11m (£9.6m) and was last wound in 1969. Fortunately for the lucky new owner it is still working to this very day. The most complicated handmade watch ever created, has been sold at auction for a cool 20.6m Swiss francs (£13.4m).

The_Supercomplication_1 antique pocket watch Pieces of Time

If you are unaware, a “complication” is, in watch terms, the technical term that refers to any feature a watch has that is added to the watch itself other than the function of telling the time- something Henry Graves Jr strived to have more of on his watch than anyone else.

The Supercomplication was made by famous watchmaker Patek Philippe, in 1932, and has boasts a total of 24 complications (you can see the list of complications at the end of our feature).

This was the tail end of the “golden age of watchmakers”. “Until the advent of the automobile they were considered the most innovative makers in the world,” Perman explains.

It was a well-known fact that Graves was a lover of sports, which is possibly thought to be an incentive for him to be drawn into the increasingly competitive and specialist world of watchmaking. The Geneva Observatory Timing contest, known as the “watch Olympics”, put the timepieces of watchmakers against one another for the reward of various prizes and was one of those watchmakers Graves took a close interest in it.

The Packard watch, which was seen as competition to beat for Graves, had 10 complications, and had previously been the focal timepiece that others aspired to. Features of this movement included the first ever sky chart on a watch – a celestial map of the sky above his home in Ohio made up of a collection of 500 gold stars.

Commissioned in 1925, but not delivered to Graves, the man who commissioned this exclusive timepiece, until 1933, the Supercomplication possesses 900 parts and remains the most complicated watch pieced together devoid of the assistance from computers, according to Sotheby’s.


To give you an idea of how outstanding this amazing work of master craftsmanship really is we have listed the full 24 complications the watch features.



Chronograph (stopwatch)

The Chime

Other functions


If you would like to add to your collection of antique pocket watches but feel the Graves’ Supercomplication may be slightly above your budget then why not come and see what we can offer you here at Pieces of Time?

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