The World’s Most Expensive Watches
A Porsche on the wrist can cost you more than a Porsche in the garage ($225K for a P’6910—and it’s not even built by Porsche)! Guess whose engine takes longer to assemble?
Unlike a car, a watch “engine” has to be able to run continuously, at rock-steady rpm, upside-down and sideways, with minimal if any maintenance, hot, cold and possibly under water. But a cheap Timex, which as we all know “takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” does that too so how can there be an entire book about wristwatches that start at $200,000 and go way, way higher than that? Over 100 watches are presented here, and even that number is highly selective and only the merest tip of the iceberg!
Precision engineering, design, originality, materials, craftsmanship, and good old manual labor do ratchet up the price—but so do brand cachet, perceived prestige, and all-out bling. (The last watch in this book has its price right in the name, the one-off 2012 Hublot “Big Bang $5 Million” that sports 1282 diamonds and 100+ carat.). Think of a wristwatch as a miniature piece of art and you’re in the right frame of mind for this book.
First of all let’s make clear that this is a properly intelligent book about watches, not some fluff piece that only looks good on the coffee table. Published by the Antique Collectors Club it caters to the discerning serious and would-be enthusiast.
If you follow business, trend, and lifestyle magazines and e-zines you’ll recognize author Ariel Adams’ name from any number of watch- and luxury-themed contributions. He’s also the founder and editor-in-chief of the highest-trafficked blog on timepieces, aBlogtoWatch.com and what makes him tick is a sincere, abiding personal interest in the things he writes about.
“Ticking” is, in fact, they key common denominator for the watches in this book. Not a quartz watch in sight, and Adams deftly paints a picture of the centuries-old art of horology, crude as it was in the early days. The quartz movement was a real advance and made possible unsurpassed accuracy—the very thing one would want from a timepiece—and still it didn’t kill the mechanical watch. Adams explains all this very nicely and the first 20-odd pages introduce watchmaking parameters such as complications (i.e. the different functions a watch can have), materials, and technique as well as historical watches and their provenance.
The individual watches are then discussed in ascending order of price on 2–3 pages each with one page of very engagingly written text about features and relevance and the remainder given to photos. While the latter are supplied by the makers, the text is surely Adams’ own because it is refreshingly free of the mindless, uncritical gushing found in advertising copy. He is clearly not afraid of making statements some well-heeled buyers might find difficult to reconcile with their salesperson’s patter. If you know even a little bit about mechanical watches you’ll have heard, especially in recent years, that a “tourbillon” is de rigeur. Every watchmaker worth his stripes offers one and you’d better be prepared to part with at least $100,000 but Adams boldly says, “Ironically, as a feature designed to increase accuracy, it often led to even lower accuracy in wristwatches. The best tourbillon-based timepieces are merely as accurate as those without one.” Hallelujah and Amen.
Most watches here are from the last 10, 15 years and there a very few vintage pieces, such as Albert Einstein’s Longines. Even watch geeks will not recognize all the makers in this book!
If it is news to you that a watch movement can contain 1000 and more parts, every page of this book will draw you deeper and deeper into a new world. The passage of time is not told by moving hands alone and some of these watches are vastly novel. And while you have to leave your expensive car at the curb you can wear your $318,000 LaFerrari by Hublot right to the party—and you’ll never want for a conversation starter again, not least because no one will be able to tell the time. And just wait until you whip out the custom drill you need to wind it (it has no crown)…
Calling this large-format (10.75 in x 12.75) book “stunning” is not an exaggeration.
Copyright 2014, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).