Well, there was speculation that the particular stainless steel replica Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime might become the most expensive fake watch to ever sell at auction, and it turns out that was well founded. It was just the fact. The replica watch, with its two dials, reversible case, and 20 complications, was made to be the most expensive watch around the world.
It is not surprising that the watch fetched a large price. Historically, Patek Philippe watches have done particularly well only on watches, and for the past few years it has been the most expensive of its kind. Just a few minutes earlier, another Patek Philippe, Henry Graves, had been crowned the world’s most expensive watch. The most expensive wristwatch until today was the aforementioned Paul Newman Daytona that belonged to Mr. Paul Newman, which pulled in $17 million when it sold in 2017. No matter how you slice it, today’s result is a big one.
There have been a lot of records set, broken, and broken yet again over the last few years, but this one is apparently the granddaddy of them all. It’s interesting that the watch that’s held the crown for a long time was a pocket watch from the 1920 and it was eventually unseated by a modern, special complication, also from Patek Philippe. This is the first time the record is held by a modern watch, at least in recent memory. However, when it comes to the record for being the most expensive wristwatch, it’s a little more nuanced. As talked above, the record was held by a different unique Patek, which was unseated by a rare vintage Patek and a unique, provenance-driven vintage Rolex in turn.
The bidding up to around 20 million was a race, then it slowed down to a proper standoff, ratcheting up…and up…and up. It was clear that a major portion of the crowd was simply in disbelief. But it doesn’t matter to bidders. They are absorbed;The auctioneer knew that neither side would budge. It’s in the room. A call comes in every few minutes to raise the stakes.
The higher it is, the more engaged the crowd is. It succeeded in silencing the chatter that usually filled the room. Once it went to CHF 28 million a few cheers and congratulatory claps punctuated the flow of the auction until it seemed like everyone got comfortable with the idea that this was going to be the most expensive watch ever sold.
When I tried it on the other week, it didn’t immediately resonate emotionally — but who CARES, because when the fake Patek Philippe set a world record, there were definitely extra watches in the room.