The watch market is a truly fascinating place. After looking at our data and running the numbers, I can reveal five of the most expensive watches sold on Chrono24 in the last five years. Let’s pretend for a minute that money’s not an issue: Which of these pricey luxury timepieces would you choose?
- Richard Mille RM 052
- Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon Sky Platinum Edition
- Patek Philippe Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon 5016P
- Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
- Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ref. 4300V/120G-B946
Richard Mille RM 052
Although you’d be forgiven for underestimating them on account of their eclectic choice of materials and designs, Richard Mille is in fact one of the most expensive luxury watch brands out there. This Richard Mille RM 052 perfectly exemplifies this watchmaker’s polarizing creations; this reference combines an unorthodox look with an astronomical price tag, and demands your undivided attention, to boot. The brand’s signature tonneau case and rubber strap combo is of course in full swing, but these elements are eclipsed by the stylized skull occupying the center of the dial. This isn’t just a daring design choice, the skull also houses a tourbillon. Topped off with exquisite materials like gold, ceramic, and carbon, you can already get an idea of how deep your pockets have to be to call this timepiece your own. After selling for $800,000, the Richard Mille RM 052 is up there with the most expensive watches ever sold on Chrono24. Of course, you’re not only paying for the premium materials that make up this 50 × 42 mm timepiece, you’re paying for the brand name and the honor of owning such a limited piece.
Space Odyssey: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon Sky Platinum Edition
The Jacob & Co Astronomia raises the RM 052’s diameter to a stately 47 mm, and although it doesn’t quite reach the same galactic price point, the Astronomia still takes the silver medal at $612,000. When I first came across the watch in my research, I was surprised that it was from Jacob & Co – after all, the New York-based manufacturer is known for smothering its timepieces in diamonds. As a fan of astronomy, I really appreciate the finer details and overall theme. The case is crafted from platinum and has sapphire crystal apertures on both sides. The manual in-house movement hosts a tourbillon rotating on three axes and boasts 395 components for the wearer to marvel at. Needless to say, the dial of the Jacob & Co Astronomia Tourbillon Sky is second to none: It’s made of blue grade 5 titanium and punctuated with applied stars and zodiac signs in 18-karat gold. It’s hardly surprising that this watch is so expensive: The incredible craftsmanship is palpable, and the materials are among the best the watch industry has to offer. Add in the fact that only 18 copies of this watch exist, and you know you have a highly-coveted work of art on your hands.
Classic elegance: Patek Philippe Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon 5016P
If the first two watches are a bit too out-there for your liking, the Patek Philippe Grand Complications ref. 5016P will probably be more your style. This reference offers everything you’d expect from a Patek Philippe: a sophisticated, elegant watch that you can wear every day without the flashiness of a Richard Mille or Jacob & Co. At 37 mm across, this timepiece is the perfect size for a dress watch, but what’s really impressive is that the manufacturer managed to work a tourbillon, minute repeater, and perpetual calendar into such a compact movement. There’s something wonderfully minimalistic about the watch’s platinum case and black leather strap. Turn the timepiece over, and you’ll be greeted with the manual movement ticking away in all its grandeur. It might not be obvious from the timepiece’s understated design, but the Patek Philippe Grand Complications 5016P is among the most expensive watches sold on Chrono24 at $550,000. The fact that Patek Philippe is a high-end luxury watch brand is nothing new, but did you expect such a modest dress watch to demand such a high price?
It doesn’t get much louder than this: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
If you like fancy trimmings and time in the limelight, you’ll enjoy the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 26333.OR.ZZ.1222OR.01. Both the case (designed by watchmaking legend Gérald Genta) and the elaborate, fine-link bracelet are made of solid 18-karat rose gold. However, the first thing that meets the eye is the plethora of diamonds covering almost every inch of the timepiece. The subdials and date window are lone islands, providing some degree of legibility in a sea of glistening gemstones. Interestingly, the manufacturer decided to retain the steel ornamental screws on the bezel. In 1972, this model entered the market as the first luxury watch to be made of stainless steel, and this design feature pays homage to that history. What’s more, the Royal Oak offered one of the smallest automatic movements with a central rotor and date display of that era, which was provided by fellow industry heavyweight Jaeger-LeCoultre. At $400,000, this gold, diamond-encrusted Royal Oak is in a class of its own on Chrono24, and it definitely looks the part.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ref. 4300V/120G-B946
The skeletonized Vacheron Constantin Overseas combines the strong tradition of watchmaking the manufacturer is known for with a contemporary design. The case measures 41.5 mm in diameter and is made of white gold, but the real showstopper here is the timepiece’s ultra-thin skeletonized perpetual calendar. This complication will run undisturbed until the year 2100, and is accompanied by a moon phase, complete with a starry night sky and two gold moons. You can also admire the fascinating inner workings through the sapphire crystal case back. The balanced blend of tradition and modernity continues onto the bracelet with a quick adjustment system – something still far too seldom in the luxury watch industry. The wearer can thus change up the vibe of the skeletonized Vacheron Constantin Overseas with the white gold bracelet, rubber strap, and leather strap that come with the watch. This VC watch changes hands for roughly $275,000, which secures this timepiece a seat at the table of the most expensive watches bought on Chrono24.
The Fascination Behind Extremely Expensive Watches
The five watches I’ve presented in this article cover a lot of ground. It’s riveting to think that an unassuming watch like the Patek Philippe Grand Complications is worth significantly more than a solid gold, diamond-encrusted, louder-than-life Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and is on par with the stunning Jacob & Co. Astronomia. Watches can be deceptively expensive, and those lucky watch enthusiasts certainly found what they were looking for. But what would your pick be?