Throwing down a chubby wad of cash on a luxury timepiece is one of the greatest indulgences a modern man can enjoy.
After all: who needs a rainy day fund when you can inspire jealousy, awe and lust wherever you go instead?
But you’ll have to pick up a helluva lot of paper-rounds to feel the cold press of one of these beauties on your wrist.
Presenting: the most valuable watches in the whole wide world.
(For the sake of fairness, we’ve left out all the pricey models that are caked in bazillions of diamonds. Because that doesn’t really count, does it?)
The eponymous Rolex gifted to Paul Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward (it’s engraved with the message “Drive Carefully” in reference to his love for racing) in 1968, the Paul Newman Daytona has been considered a holy grail timepiece amongst collectors and fans for decades, but even the most fervent Rolex fanboys couldn’t have imagined just how much it would reach in auction.
Given a conservative price tag of £1,000,000, King Cool’s everyday watch, with its black-and-creme exotic dial, was eventually sold to an undisclosed phone buyer for a brain-melting £13.5,000,000 — the equivalent of 9,030 2017 Rolex Daytonas.
Yeah, but they never touched the wrist of Newman, did they?
Tick-tock supremos Maîtres du Temps are famous for bringing together some of the most exceptional watchmakers in the world to collaborate on game-changing models – and the ‘Chapter One Round Transparence’ is the perfect example.
A mish-mash of idiosyncratic design philosophies and varying schools of horology (read: watchmaking), the ‘Chapter One’ is both classic and complex. That’s not to mention the 18k red gold case and limited edition engraving that really sets it apart (only 11 models were made).
At a wallet-demolishing £404,000, it stands out as a much sought-after tribute to the industry’s fascinating past and exciting future.
If Batman wore a watch, this would be it. Not only is it packed out with gadgetry, but it also looks moodier than a 14 year-old boy at a garden centre.
Limited to 68 pieces, the ‘Night Eagle’ is a modified version of the earlier ‘DualTow’ concept. The time is told on two revolving belts, and the movement offers a chronograph with a special planetary gear system.
It also features tourbillons (a mechanism that helps to counter the effect of gravity within the watch), a mini gong and hammer for its chime, and 65 jewels shimmering from within its dark colour scheme.
Bruce Wayne’s probably reaching for his cheque book right now. This one’s nice and all, but it’s a little on the nose.
A more classic and minimalist style compared to the other pieces on this list – but why would the most important watchmaker of the 20th century need to be brash?
George Daniels only produced a few dozen timepieces within his life, but his most important contribution to the industry was the invention of the ‘Co-Axial Escapement’ system (which he later sold to Omega.)
It was revolutionary for a number of techy reasons, but most importantly it allowed for longer times between servicing. The one-of-a-kind ‘George Daniel Co-Axial Chronograph’ sold for $619,000 at auction in 2012, and for good reason – its a piece of bonafide history.
When Italian jewelry monolith Bulgari purchased Swiss watch brand Gerald Genta, the most celebrated (and money-spinning) result was this: the ‘Magsonic Sonnerie Tourbillon’.
It’s loud-and-proud, contains enough ultra complicated function for the proper ‘heads’ amongt us, and is packed with an array of chimes that have been enhanced by a special “magsonic” alloy.
At £620,000, it’ll make just as much impact on your wrist as it will on your life-savings.
Audemars have previous when it comes to crafting head-spinning cocktails of complications (shop-talk for ‘features’) – in fact, they’ve probably been doing it longer than any existing watch manufacturer.
But the ‘Grande Complication’ is undoubtedly their best yet.
The fiddly insides are all hand-finished, cut-out and beadblasted with polished bevels, and feature a matte surface underneath. This is all accompanied by a wealth of features, including split-second chronograph, perpetual calendar and a minute repeater.
And what’s more, it look bloody lovely too. The titanium model will set you back over 700k, but can you really put a price on style? (yes. Yes you can. But it’s okay to stare a little longer).
With 36 different complications, 1,483 individual components, a 1,000-year calendar and a wealth of other eclectic features, the ‘Frank Muller Aeternitas’ will leave you more scared and confused than a Labour MP trying to take roll call.
Labelled as the “Master of Complications” by ticker aficionados, the Swiss watchmaker has managed to cram an unprecedented number of utilities into the ‘MEGA 4’ model, which also features a glass sapphire case back and a piece of tourbillon on the dial.
Check out this guide to its myriad functions to get an idea of just how much of a engineering feat this is.
A one-of-a-kind timepiece produced in 2013 specifically for auction, the ‘5004T’ is the only titanium version of the beautiful-but-alas-discontinued ‘Patek Philippe 5004’ collection.
The Swiss watch dons caused a stir in the industry when they created the rare edition, which adopted a sportier, more colourful look than its more conservative family members. Think of it as the Fresh Prince to the ‘5004’s Carlton.
It sold at £2,985,000 in a hotly contested auction, and has been lusted after by longing wrists ever since.
Named after Louis Monet, the celebrated 18th century-born father of chronograph watches, the ‘Meteoris Collection’s astronomical price tag is pretty fitting, all things considered.
The collection – four watches in total – feature precious stones and meteorite pieces integrated into the dials. Each watch showcases a unique piece of rare space rock: for example, the ‘Tourbillon Mars’ includes a fragment of the Jiddat al Harasis 479 meteorite, an authentic, 180 million year-old piece of the planet Mars that fell to Earth.
So yeah: pretty special. Martian meteorites can sell for as much as $1,000 per gram – more than 15 times the price of gold. It’s the closest you’ll get to experiencing space, short of sharing a Virgin Galactic flight with Richard Branson. He’d probably chat your face off for the whole journey, and make you drink Virgin Cola too. Go for the watch instead.
So you’ve found a spare 25 mill nestled in the pocket of some forgotten skinnies, and now you’re torn on how to spend it? Don’t worry: we’ve all been there brother.
You could do a lot worse than splash it on the ‘Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette’ – officially and easily the priciest watch in the world.
Commissioned by a mysterious lover of former French queen and cake advocate Marie-Antoinette, work began on the pocket watch (yeah, we’re going off-piste, but just look at it) in 1782. Legendary horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet started the project, before his son finished the job in 1827.
Encased in gold, the glass showcases the intricate mechanism inside, based on the most revolutionary technologies of the time. Only the best for queeny.
Problem is, they probably spent a little too long fussing over it. As luck would have it, Mary-Antoinette was guillotined 34 years before the watch even saw light of day or the inside of a pocket.
The watch was then stolen in the late 1900s from a museum in Jerusalem, and only re-emerged in 2007. It’s now locked away in the L.A Mayer museum, waiting for you to march in with a suitcase full of fifties.