Most Complicated Watch in the World
Complications? This watch has 26 of them!
New Luxury Watch – Only $2.5 Million
Are you a luxury watch connoisseur who wants to own the world's most highly complicated luxury timepiece and money is no object? Actually, money is the object since the world’s most complicated minute-repeater sonnerie watch will set you back $2,500,000. And no cents. If you spend that much, I should probably spell that phrase, “no sense.”
Is it really reasonable, you may ask, for one single luxury watch, complicated or not, to carry a price tag of two and a half million dollars? That’s a question I asked myself. Read on to discover what I learned.
What is a minute-repeater sonnerie watch and why is it so expensive? Here’s a little history. Daniel Quare, an Englishman, is believed to have invented the repeater watch in the mid-1680s. The first pocket-watch models sounded the hour and the quarter hour on demand. Repeater watches were invented by necessity so that their owners could tell the time in the dark. Why didn’t they just turn on the light to see the dial? Because electricity had not been invented yet and homes were practically pitch-black once the sun had set.
A repeater watch is unique because it chimes the time on demand. Twenty years later the five-minute repeater which chimes to the nearest five minutes was produced, and forty years after that, the first minute-repeater watch appeared. Finally, in 1892, a wristwatch repeater movement was created by Audemars Piguet.
Today most watches are created entirely by robots – untouched by human hands. Chiming watches, however, are an entirely different matter. The repeater function which chimes the hour, quarter hour and minute on demand when a button in the case is pressed, and the sommerie which automatically chimes the hour and quarter in passing (like a mantel clock) require the infinite skill of a “complications” watchmaker to construct and adjust.
It is estimated that the development and fine-tuning of a minute repeater sommerie watch require about 10,000 hours of meticulous work by the world’s finest watchmakers. This gives the watch a distinction not matched by other complication watches, as well a a price tag that usually starts in the low six figures.
Collectors of high-end watches view the minute repeater as the ultimate jewel of all timepiece complications. A minute repeater watch provides an acoustic representation (chiming) of the hours, quarter hours, and minutes through the striking of tiny hammers and miniature gongs inside the watch. Every strike is characterized by its own distinctive sound and frequency. This effect is achieved with the movement incorporating two different hammers with strike gongs that produce contrasting vibrations and tones.
As you can imagine, it requires extensive knowledge of horology and extreme skills to create and set these complications within the small confines of a gentleman’s watch. Note to wise guys: horology is not the study of prostitutes; it is the science of constructing time-indicating instruments.
By now I can almost hear you-all clamoring, “What is the name of this obscenely expensive watch?” This marvel of watch-making is the Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie complications watch with 1,300 parts and 26 complications – the most in the world (as of today).
But there’s more. This genuine 18k white gold work of art combines two of the most difficult complications in the world of watch-making. In addition to the minute repeater, this watch includes the Tourbillon – a 200-year-old invention of Abraham Louis Brequet – which is designed to counter the effect of gravity on the inner workings of the movement. To the naked eye, the Tourbillon looks like a gyroscope spinning inside its housing. Only the finest watchmakers in the world are capable of successfully combining these two complications.
And even more. The sonnerie function of the watch doesn’t just chime – it plays the entire Westminster Chimes (London) carillon melody which has separate gongs and rings for the hour and quarter hour. In addition to this melody, the watch features two more “tunes” as well as a silent mode, all based on a complex arrangement of gears.
In addition to the minute repeater, the Tourbillon balance wheel, grande and petit sonnerie, Westminster Chimes, silent mode, partially skeletonized dial, perpetual calendar with retrograde day, date and month indicator as well as leap year indicator, the watch – surprise – also displays the easy-to-read time: hour, minute and seconds with an instantaneous jumping hour display as well as separate power reserve indicators for the mainspring and sonnerie.
Wait – there’s more! For the paltry price of $2.5 million, Jaeger LeCoultre throws in two more very expensive, highly complex complication watches at no additional cost: the original model Gyrotourbillon and the Reverso Complication a Triptyque.
And finally, there’s even more. Your collection of these three extremely expensive complication watches will arrive – at absolutely no extra cost – accompanied by the largest and heaviest presentation gift box ever devised – a full size safe. I kid you not.
Only 30 sets of these three remarkable watches will be available and each buyer will also get the full size safe in which to store his limited edition complications collection. Serious collectors who pay serious prices are certainly entitled.
Favorite time quote: Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. Groucho Marx
© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011, 2014. All rights reserved.
B. J. Rakow, Ph.D., Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So" - a serious book about job search which readers say is enlightening but also fun to read.
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