The pocket watch was unveiled in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe’s 150-year anniversary. At the time, it was the world’s most complicated watch, and held that record for 26 years. The original Caliber 89 was made in yellow gold, followed by three other pieces, in rose gold, white gold and platinum, delivered nine years later.
Sotheby’s is offering the original yellow gold version at an auction in Geneva on May 14, with an estimate of $6.4-million to $9.9-million. The most recent auction of the yellow gold Caliber 89 was in 2009 at Antiquorum, where it sold for just over $5-million. But bidding could drive that price much higher.
The current record for a wrist-only watch sold at auction, for example, is $11-million, for a Patek Philippe Ref.1518 sold by Phillips Bacs & Russo last November. Bidding had started at $3-million.
The current record for a pocket watch sold at auction is $24-million, for the Patek Phillipe Henry Graves Supercomplication, with 24 complications, sold by Sotheby’s in 2014. The Caliber 89 has 33 complications, nine more than the Graves. With 24 hands, two dials, 61 bridges, 129 jewels, 184 wheels, 332 screws, 415 pinions, 429 mechanical components and 1,728 total components, the Caliber 89 it stands as the most complicated watch ever made by Patek Philippe.
Daryn Schnipper, chairman of Sotheby’s international watch division, comments, “This is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary timepieces we’ve ever had the privilege to offer. Having set a world record for any timepiece with the sale of Patek Philippe’s Henry Graves Supercomplication, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to offer yet another unique piece of such horological genius and importance.”
In addition to a tourbillon escapement, rattrapante chronograph, perpetual calendar, equation of time and an astronomical sun hand, the watch has a unique calendar that displays the date of Easter every year. It is 88.2mm wide and 41.07mm thick, and its functions are driven by three mainspring barrels. The Caliber 89 was exhibited by Sotheby’s in Dubai from March 14-18 and will be in Hong Kong March 31-April 4.