Yesterday, on the 28th of May 2023, Christie’s Hong Kong auctioned a Patek Philippe for 8,546,282 US dollars. This reference 2523J now is the number six on this list of most expensive watches ever. And because the reference 2523 holds three positions in this list, it might appear here even more when other owners decide to sell their piece at these prices. It’s a rare piece, as only 26 examples were ever made, either in yellow or pink gold and there is one example in white gold.
The number one on this list is… not a watch from Graff Diamonds from 2014 that looks like candy. On most lists on the internet, the Graff Hallucination is the most expensive watch in the world, costing 55 million dollars. It is 110 carats of colored diamonds set into a bracelet of platinum. What if they put twice as much shiny things on it? Would it be 110 million then? It should be on a list of Things With A Ridiculous Amount Of Diamonds. Not on this list.
Another one from Graff has the same recipe. A bucket of diamonds and there is a watch somewhere underneath. It’s the 2015 Graff Fascination with 152.96 carats of white diamonds and a center, 38.13-carat, pear-shaped diamond that can detach into a ring. Yours for 40 million. Doesn’t count.
We found an expensive watch from renowned watch brand Chopard. It costs 25 million and consist of a 15-carat pink diamond, a 12-carat blue diamond, and an 11-carat white diamond as well as a further 163 carats of white and yellow diamonds. It’s called the Chopard 201-Carat Watch, if you can recognize the watch somewhere in the middle. We say: not for this list.
There is also a pocket watch called the the Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication by Patek Philippe. It was sold by Sotheby’s in Geneva on the 11th of November 2014 for almost 24 million dollars, Yes, it is a watch. But a pocket watch. We are looking for something else…
The most expensive watch in the world to wear on your wrist
You already understand that we are looking for real watches, that you can wear on your wrist. Not an explosion of diamonds with a watch somewhere underneath. In our opinion the most expensive watch in the world should be a “normal” watch. But where do we draw the line? There is an 18-million Jacob & Co. watch called Billionaire with 260 carats of emerald-cut diamonds that actually looks like a watch. Sort of. No.
Then there is a diamond Hublot Classic Fusion Haute Joaillerie for 5 million. It features 1280 diamonds with at least three carats each, and it really looks like a watch. Still, no. Besides, 5 million wouldn’t be in the top 10 nowadays. There are more examples of diamond bombs, but we don’t count them. What we count is real world watches – although the price migth not be real world – that have been sold. Now, there might have been transactions between private persons or companies we do not know of, but this list only contains watches that are traceble. And so is the sale. Which creates a list which is based on aution results.
This is giving us the following list of most expensive watches in the world, with a lot of models from Patek Philippe and two models from Rolex. So far. The list is ordered by the amount in US dollars, mostly including aution fee’s, buyers premium, etc., and based on the exchange rate on the moment of sale. Are all the watches worth the money? Probably not. A lot of autions are for charity (Only Watch for example) so some auction results are set because of the good heart of the buyer rather than the value of the watch.
01 – the Patek Philippe Ref. 6300A/010 (2019) is the most expensive watch in the world
The number 1 of most expensive watches in the world is this Patek Phillipe Ref. 6300A/010. This one-off was created by the brand to be auctioned at the Only Watch 2019 charity event and was hammered at 31 million Swiss Francs. Almost double the price of number 2. It’s not the first and probably not the last watch autioned for Only Watch that reaches incredible price levels. Auction date was the 9th of November 2019.
Sold for: CHF 31’000’000
Which was: approx. $ 31,077.820
02 – Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman Ref. 6239 (1968)
This Rolex that belonged to Paul Newman beats the Patek Philippe Ref. 1518A that was the most expensive wrist watch since 2016. The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman Ref. 6239 was sold on the 26th of October 2017 by Phillips Auctioneers in New York and could carry the title for most expensive watch in the world for only 2 years.
Sold for: CHF 17’750’973
Which was: $ 17,752,500 | € 15.268.341 | £ 13,565,921
03 – Patek Philippe Ref. 1518A (1943)
One out of four, the first one made. A Grande Complication with a perpetual calendar and chronograph, which was the first ever made at the time. Read the full story about the Patek Philippe Ref. 1518A here. It was sold on the 13th of November 2016 by Phillips Auctioneers in Geneva.
Sold for: CHF 11’002’000
Which was: $ 11,128,250 | € 10.231.860 | £ 8,810,573
04 – Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 (1948)
This pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phase belonged to Prince Mohammed Tewfik A. Toussou of Egypt. He passed away in April 2021 and this watch was consigned to Sotheby’s by his heirs. It was actioned by Sotheby’s New York on the 9th of December 2021. The 35 millimeter Patek with case number 657’249 still had the original box and papers (from 1953) and is 1 of 14 known pieces with this specs.
Sold for: $ 9,570,000
05 – Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 Gobbi Milan “Heures Universelles” (1953)
This Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 HU was auctioned by Christie’s Hong Kong on the 23rd of November 2019 for almost 9 million US dollars – as it was sold for 70,175,000 HKD. This Heures Universelles (HU) from 1953 with case number 306’216 was delivered to Mr. Raimondo Gobbi in April 1957. He was a watch lover and retailer in Milan, Italy.
Sold for: $8,967,000
06 – Patek Philippe Ref. 2523J North America (1955)
Another reference 2523, it is the Patek Philippe Ref. 2523J. It is an18k gold two-crown world timer with 24-hour indication and cloisonné enamel dial depicting the North American continent. It was autioned in Hong Kong by Christie’s on the 28th of May 2023. This 35.6-millimeter in yellow gold with case number 306’205 is one of three known versions with a yellow gold case and North America on the dial.
Sold for: $ 8,546,282
07 – Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 Eurasia “Silk Road” (1953)
And another Patek Philippe Ref. 2523, now with Eurasia depicted on the cloisonné enamel dial. It was autioned in Geneva by Phillips on the 8th of May 2021. This 36-millimeter world timer with case number 306’193 appears to be the earliest Ref. 2523 with a cloisonné enamel dial.
Sold for: CHF 7’048’000
Which was: $ 7,682,000
08 – Patek Philippe Ref. 5016A-010 (2015)
A unique piece donated by Patek to Only Watch to be auctioned for charity. Only Watch is a biennial auction to fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and watches from several brands around the world. This Patek Philippe 5016A-010 is a Minute Repeater Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel with a blue enamel dial. Read more about the model here. It was sold on the 7th of November 2015 by Phillips Auctioneers in Geneva.
Sold for: CHF 7’300’000
Which was: $ 7,259,348 | € 6.757.908 | £ 4,822,686
09 – Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-018 Tiffany & Co. (2021)
This Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711 in steel with Tiffany dial was made to celebrate 170 years of alliance between Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. So they made 170 pieces of it and this one was actioned for charity by Phillips New York on the 11th of December 2021 with proceeds benefitting The Nature Conservancy.
Sold for: $ 6,503,500
10 – Patek Philippe Ref. 5208T-010 (2017)
The Ref. 5208T-010 is a minute repeater with monopusher chronograph, perpetual calendar and moon phase for Only Watch 2017, was auctioned by Christie’s on the 11th of November 2017. Bidding started at CHF 900’000 ($ 932,000 / € 822.000 / £ 710,000). Read about the Patek Philippe Ref. 5208T-010 here.
Sold for: CHF 6’200’000
Which was $ 6,224,500 | € 5.335.600 | £ 4,719,400
11 – Rolex Daytona Ref. 6265 The Unicorn (1970)
This 37-millimeter Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6265 was auctioned by Phillips Geneva on the 12th of May 2018. It’s a white gold version with black dial and bark finished bracelet, and so far it is the only one looking like this – that’s why it is called the The Unicorn. Produced in 1970, delivered on special request to a German dealer in 1971, and discovered by watch website Hodinkee in a collection of American collector John Goldberger. It was sold to benefit Children Action.
Sold for: CHF 5,937,500
Which was: $ 5,936,906
12 – Patek Philippe Ref. 1527 (1943)
The Patek Philippe Ref. 1527 is an 18K gold perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phase. The case has a diameter of 37.6 millimeters and houses Patek’s caliber 13”’, a nickel-finished lever movement stamped with the Geneva seal. It was sold by Christie’s Geneva on the 10th of May 2010.
Sold for: CHF 6’259’000
Which was: $ 5,655,140 | approx. € 4.394.719 | £ 3,772.074
Prices and (re)sources for the most expensive watch in the world
Prices: for all the exchange rate calculations (at mid-market rates) we used the historical currency tables from XE.
Most information about the watches is from the auctioneers of Phillips, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Antiquorum, who regularly have auctions with the most desirable and searched (vintage) watches. Check their websites if you want to keep up with the latest auctions. Or if you want to read more about a specific watch. Their specialist really dig up everything about a piece, you will be amazed.
Almost all photos are either press photos from the manufacturer or from the auctioneers. Not all photo’s are the actual ones that have been sold. Some photos are horrible and found on the internet without an owner. Should you be the owner of a photo listed here and you want it to be removed, please let us know.
If you know of any watch auctioned that should be in this list, please let us know!
If you are looking for the oldest watch known, take a look at this page. You can find the list of oldest watch brands in the world here.