What makes these timepieces five of the most expensive watches on the face of the planet?
Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette ($30,000,000)
You read that right — seven zeros after the three for this 18th Century piece. A mysterious former lover of French queen Marie-Antoinette commissioned legendary horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet to produce this intricate case watch in 1782 . . . and it was left to his son to finish the job in 1827, 34 years after the queen was guillotined. Encased in gold and showcasing the cutting-edge mechanics inside, the watch only re-emerged nine years ago after being stolen in the early 20th Century and is now housed in a museum — with a very lengthy price tag.
Hublot Big Bang ($5,000,000)
Take a quick glance at this timepiece and there’s no mystery surrounding the $5 million price tag: diamonds, and a hell of a lot of them. Complementing the 44mm diameter 18K white gold case, the luxury Swiss watchmaker squeezed almost 1300 diamonds — each a minimum of three carats — onto a watch that took a team of 17 more than a year to complete. The price was no obstacle for Beyonce, who bought the Big Bang for husband Jay Z on his 43rd birthday in 2012 . . . before that whole ‘Lemonade’ saga.
Louis Moinet Meteoris ($4,600,000)
Paying homage to the inventor of the chronograph, the four pieces in the Meteoris collection are encrusted with precious stones and pieces of meteors, such as the 180-million-year-old Martian meteoric embedded in the dial of the Tourbillon Mars (the other watches are named Moon, Asteroid and Rosette Stone, relating to the type of meteorite used in each piece). Worth 15 times more than gold, chunks of Mars justify such an astronomical price tag — pun intended.
Patek Phillipe 5004T ($3,980,000)
This one-off 2013 offering — the only titanium version of the discontinued 5004 collection and one of the refined Swiss watchmaker’s sportier pieces — sold for €2.95 at auction in 2013, and its rarity underpins its value. You’ll also need a little more than ashtray money to buy Patek’s $2.2m Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G, an 18K white gold piece with 20 complications released in March this year.
Richard Mille Tourbillon RM 56-02 Sapphire ($2,000,000)
One of only 10 pieces created for the Watches and Wonders event in Hong Kong in 2014, an elaborate cable and pulley system suspends the titanium baseplate from the sapphire case (the entire case — case band, front bezel and back bezel — is cut from scratch-resistant sapphire crystal). Behind this top-line $2m piece are a number of watches that don’t give you much change from your mill, due to the technical precision required to produce triple-decker cases made of curved components.