For some of us, watches are just useful tools that let us know when it’s time for that leftover Chinese you packed for lunch. But for others, a luxury watch is the epitome of craftsmanship, style and sartorial sophistication. Which is why a top-notch timepiece can often reach ridiculous price points. To be clear; we’re talking about the really ridiculous. Like, hundreds of thousands of pounds ridiculous. But what are the world’s most expensive watches?

6 of the World’s Most Expensive Watches

Why Are Luxury Watches So Expensive?

The main problem when trying to answer that question is that it only takes a sprinkling of chunky diamonds here or a giant gold case there to elevate a humble timepiece up towards crazy expensive heights. So for the purposes of this post, we’re not going to be duped by bling. We’re looking at ingenuity, innovation and craftsmanship.

Of course, like anything, the price of something is only relative to the value a buyer finds in it. That said, there are fundamental reasons haute horology demands a higher price point that other luxury items. Ironically enough, much of it comes down to time; Not only are high end watches incredibly accurate, they also take time to build – weeks, even months of meticulous hand-eye coordination. And this is all before we even get into materials and technical wizardry. So what are the most expensive watches in the world?

Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie – £780,000

When it comes to pricey watches, Greubel Forsey are always near top of the list. Where a £500,000 timepiece is usually a one-off special edition for most brands, it’s everyday business for the Swiss legends. But even by Greubel Forsey’s extremely high standards, the Grande Sonnerie is something special. Just like a clock tower, the watch mechanically chimes every fifteen minutes and can chime every minute if you so wish. It’s an incredible achievement and even without a hint of gold in sight, it’ll still set you back a whopping £780,000. Maybe not your office watch then…

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Richard Mille RM 50-03 – £960,000

Who are we to tell someone how to spend their million pounds? But if we were going to spend that kind of cash on something, we’d want to see the craftsmanship in all its glory. Which is exactly what you can do with the F1-inspired RM 50-03 by Richard Mille. A collaboration with the McLaren F1 team, this watch packs it all with cutting-edge materials meeting Mille’s famed less-than-subtle design flair. The racing chronograph is made from Graph TPT, the same material used in McLaren’s cars and features the world’s lightest split-seconds tourbillon chronograph – weighing just 38 grams. Unfortunately, it is still heavy on the wallet – 960 K’s to be exact – and it’s also limited to just 75 pieces in case you wanted to buy one for 76 of your friends.

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Patek Philippe 5004T – £2,985,000

Patek Philippe has a reputation like almost no other in horology. And in 2013, the Swiss manufacturer produced a one-of-a-kind timepiece especially for auction. Called the ‘5004T’, it’s the only titanium version of the now-discontinued ‘Patek Philippe 5004’ collection. Adopting a sportier, more colourful look than its more reserved cousin, the watch caused quite a stir on release and eventually sold for a cool £2,985,000 in a hotly contested auction.

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Louis Moinet Meteoris Collection – £3,500,000

When talking about chronograph watches, the name ‘Louis Monet’ stands a cut above the rest. Born in the 18th century, he was the father of chronographs and last year his company released the Meteoris Collection – arguably the company’s best works to date. The collection featured four watches in total and rather incredibly each watch showcased a unique piece of rare space rock. For example, the ‘Tourbillon Mars’ model donned a fragment of the Jiddat al Harasis 479 meteorite; an authentic, 180 million year-old piece of the planet Mars that fell to Earth. No surprise at all then that the collection went on to make record sums.

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Paul Newman Rolex Daytona – £13,500,000

But like any other piece being sold at auction, you can’t put a price on a good story. Or rather, you can put a price on a good story. Gifted to Hollywood legend Paul Newman by his wife in 1968 with the message “Drive Carefully” engraved, the Rolex Daytona had been consider a Holy Grail timepieces by collectors for decades. So when it went auction, the £1,000,000 price tag was never going to put anyone off. So much so, an anonymous phone buyer purchased it for £13,500,000.

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Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette – £25,000,000

But if you’re looking for the priciest watch on the planet, take a look at the Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette. Commissioned by a lover of the former French Queen in 1782, the pocket watch was completed by legendary horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet’s son in in 1827. Encased in gold (obviously), the glass face showcases the intricate mechanism inside, based on the most revolutionary technologies of the time. Marie-Antoinette never got to see the finished gem as she was guillotined 34 years before completion. The watch was actually stolen from a museum in Jerusalem in the late 90s but is now locked away in the L.A Mayer museum. OK maybe not technically a ‘watch’ but it’s quite something!

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