You can buy a watch for £10 which may serve you for a couple of years. Or you can buy a high-quality watch for thousands more, which will serve you even longer and will stand to be a financial asset. The main difference between the two is their design and complexity. However, those are only part of the aspects of watches that determine their quality, value and price. An evaluation of the best-designed and most intricate watches will help you understand what makes them incredibly expensive and valuable.
If you want to understand why a mere watch could feed a few generations of your family, then start with the most expensive watch in existence, the Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette, also known as the Queen, which costs around £25 million. It is believed to have been made for Marie-Antoinette, the ill-fated French Queen, although she did not live to see it. Some of its exceptional features include:
It is made from gold, sapphire, platinum and rubies and has a clear front that lets you witness its glory and majesty in action.
This unique Patek masterpiece features a solid gold handcrafted monochrome motif with a checkerboard pattern. Its graceful finish is enhanced with 18-carat white gold Arabic numeral hour markers. For straps, it has velvet-soft calf leather reinforced with a woven fibre top and red stitching. Among Patek Philippe watches, the 5004T is priced at around £3 million.
Other features that contribute to the uniqueness of this watch are:
This rare and highly coveted Rolex watch was recently sold to an anonymous buyer for around £14 million - no other wristwatch has ever been sold at a higher price. It once belonged to the legendary 20th-century movie star Paul Newman, who received it from Joanne Woodward, his wife. Newman’s Rolex Daytona is made from stainless steel. However, its rare dial is what makes it special, and goes without saying, having a watch from the person where the phase was coined from is priceless.
Some luxury watches are just for show and not necessarily for sale. The Royal Oak Grand Complication is one of them. In the class of Audemars Piguet, its case is made from 18-carat white gold and sapphire crystal and has a screw-locked crown. Both its dial and bracelet are also made of white gold. It has 52 different jewels and contains 648 parts. The extra features that add to the complexity of this work of art are:
The Traditionnelle Tourbillon is the epitome of what to expect from Vacheron Constantin watches. Both its casing and crown are made from 18k pink gold. It has a metallic dial and its sapphire glass back is transparent. Its strap is made from alligator skin, while its mechanisms have 188 parts, and the entire watch has 30 jewels.
With this in mind, it's clear that three things determine the worth of a watch:
The production of intricate parts in a mechanical or quartz watch is what adds to the high price tag of many of these watches. Similarly, the more rare and expensive the materials a watch is made from, the higher its price will be. Moreover, professionals with the knowledge and skills required to design and assemble these sophisticated works of art are in short supply. It is difficult to design a watch like the ‘Urwerk UR-1001’ from the inside out. The design process is strenuous and demanding because every part has to fit before the actual production of the watch begins. Manufacturing and assembling all the parts required in intricate designs like the ‘Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1’ demands precision, care and exceptional dexterity. However, due to their creativity, inspiration, aesthetics and longevity, many people don’t mind waiting for up to five years for their luxury watch to be assembled at the hands of a master horologist.