How much could the world’s most expensive pocket watch possibly cost? Everyone has heard of luxury watches from brands like Rolex. A watch like that starts at a price around $7000. Not much more that a rounding error on the astronomical $30 millions dollars that the No. 160 Grand Compilation from Breguet has been valued at, should it ever be sold. The watch is also known as Marie-Antoinette or The Queen.
Now, just because a watch is a hundred times more expensive that doesn’t make it a hundred times better. A quality watch with all the essential functions at an online reseller like PocketWatch.dk only runs you about $40 USD. A watch like that will tell you the time with remarkable accuracy. It leaves you to wonder what exactly the remaining $30 million gets you when you can get 90% of the functionality at such a tiny fraction of the price. But as with most luxury items the last 10% of function and quality will cost you many orders of magnitude more than the first 90%. And the closer you get to perfection, the more the price will rise.
World’s Most Expensive Pocket Watch
Generally, it is things like expensive metal, handmade detailing and limited quantities that makes a watch collectible. But when you get into antique watches it is not only the watch itself but also its history that determines the price. A watch like the No. 160 you have it all. Not only is this unique watch several hundred years old and made from hand polished gold. It has a history that involves a French queen, a Swedish lord, a Swiss watchmaker, and an art thief.
The watch was completed in 1827. One would naturally presume the history of the watch began around this time. But the origin of this watch stretches back to 1783 when it was commissioned by Axel von Fersen, a Swedish lord. It took all of 44 years from commission to completion. The watch was a gift to the queen of France Marie-Antoinette, but both the Queen and the Lord had died by the time the watch had been completed. At the time of its making the watch contained all known complications. It counts 823 parts all made, adjusted and polished by hand. And with a movement this unique it was given a dial made from glass to show it off.
The watch has been sold many times to a long list of collectors. In 1925 the last owner gave the watch to The Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. In 1983 the watch was stolen by an art thief. It was only recovered in 2007.
A watch like this is in a class of its own. Many watch collectors would dream of owning the No. 160 Grand Complication from Breguet and with good reason. But it will remain a dream, because there is only one of the world’s most expensive pocket watch.