The Most Expensive Watch You've Never Heard Of:
The most expensive watch you've never heard of:
Can you imagine paying over CHF 1mm for a watch that has no brand, and that perhaps almost nobody has heard of? What if I told you that this watch is unique? That it's a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater, and chronograph? And best of all manufactured in 1930 and cased in platinum, and it measures only 29mm wide x 40mm in length. The watch you see pictured here is that watch, and it sold for CHF 1,330,400 in 2006 at Christie's.
This watch is one of the first watches in the world to house perpetual calendar, a minute repeater and single button chronograph, and is the product of 3 years of work that started in 1927 and concluded in 1930. The watch was comissioned by a NY jeweler named James Schulz. Interestingly, the movement was made by Les Fils de V. Piguet of Sentir and the dial by Stern Fabrique de Cadrans of Geneva, both suppliers of Patek Philippe!
The original price for this unique watch was never revealed, but in 1940 Mr. Schulz said in article in Life Magazine that the sale price of the watch was USD 10,000. Bear in mind, that this was a time when Patek Philippe time-only watches were selling for USD 250-600, not an apples to apples comparison, but you get the point... And although he was asking USD 10,000, Mr Schulz was paid only USD 5,000, and the buyer was Henry J. Topping, a heir to a fortune in tin, tabacco, steel and others. (The Wall Street Crash in 1929, and the start of the Great Depression might have been the reason why he only paid half!) He later sold the watch in the late 1950s, and after that, the timepiece changed hands five times. I am yet to find those records, but rest assured that I am still in the hunt. For now I know that it was auctioned in 1989 at Sotheby's with an estimate of USD350,000-450,000.
In the early 1960s, the watch came to hands of Robert B. McConnell, the chairman of the Indianapolis Water Company And here's a quote I quite liked from him in regards to the watch seen in a NYT article from 1989: "I wasn't just a collector, I collected complicated watches that do more than tell the time. I think people who have a great respect for fine engineered things in miniature collect things like watches" How accurate is that? Remember that this watch was produced in the late 1920s, imagine the craftsmanship from the watch-maker. It's insane to me.
To get an idea of the times, this is what cars looked in the 1920s, and how much they would sell for, now compare that to the price the watch was originally sold for.
Now I can't help but wonder where is this piece? How much would it fetch today if it were to come to auction again? Only time will tell... In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this story, and if you did, feel free to subscribe for the newsletter.
As always, thank you for reading!