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Watchmaking is an art – that much is undeniable. The finesse behind the craft isn’t easily cultivated; the steadiest of hands and sharpest of eyes are needed to continually push boundaries when it comes to producing complications. These top five most expensive timepieces, as featured on Watchtime, are set to make history with both their features and price tags.
1. Tour de I’Ile
Price: US$1,538,160 (S$2.19 million)
In commemoration of their 250th anniversary in 2005, Swiss brand Vacheron Constantin pulled out all the stops. The Tour de I’lle wastes no wrist space with its array of features on its 47-mm, double-face displays. The front display features a 60-second tourbillon, moonphase, minute repeater, and the back, a perpetual calander, sunset time indicator, and a sky chart. The numbers behind the magic? A total of 834 individual parts and 16 complications. Marketed as one of the most complicated wristwatches ever made, only seven pieces were made.
2. Art Piece 1
Price: CHF1.5 million (S$2.28 million)
The name says it all: Greubel Forsey’s timepiece is a work of art. Revealed at 2013’s SIHH, the maritime masterpiece is kept simple, with a dedicated space in the crown for a nano-sculpture created by acclaimed English microscopic artist, Willard Wigan. The ‘Golden Sails’ sculpture is a creation so small, it can pass through the eye of a needle. To the naked eye, one may see flecks of gold. With the help of the attached miniaturised adjustable microscope, it reveals a much more detailed image of a three-masted sailing ship. Other components of the watch include a 30-degree inclined double tourbillon for added precision, and a time display that pops up behind the silvered shutter when a pusher is pressed.
3. RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal
Price: CHF1.6 million (S$2.63 million)
The RM 56-01 Tourbillon Sapphire is crafted entirely out of sapphire crystal, In addition to its sapphire case and crown, its baseplate, centre bridge, and third wheel have been given a facelift, making the piece almost entirely transparent. Showcased at SIHH in 2013, the split-seconds chronograph provides a visual treat from all angles. The hours and minutes display stay on the track, while its power reserve and torque indicators are set at 11 and two o’clock respectively. Let’s not forget the tourbillon, which rests at the six o’clock position. Its transparency extends to its strap, for the brand worked together with specialist supplier Biwi SA to develop an Aerospace nano material specially for the timepiece.
4. Tourbillon RM 56-02 Sapphire
Price: US$2.02 million (S$2.87 million)
Safe to say, Richard Mille upped its ante after its RM 56-01 release. The outlandish creation references the older timepiece, but unlike its predecessor, not everything is crafted from sapphire. The timepiece takes cues from the RM 27-01 Nadal; its titanium baseplate is suspended by pulleys — four on the case, and six on the baseplate — using a 0.35-mm braided cable. A ratchet seated at nine o’clock allows the tension on the cable to be adjusted, with an arrow-shaped indicator at 12 o’clock letting you know when you’ve hit the thresholds. Only two pieces were made.
5. Grand Complication
Price: €1.9 million (S$3.55 million)
Casually gliding past the three million-dollar mark is A. Lange & Söhne’s Grand Complication. Revealed at 2013’s SIHH, the timepiece has 876 hand-wrought parts, seven complications and 14 functions; calling it a commitment to the craft barely even covers it. Notable features on the 50-mm timepiece include its grande and petite sonnerie with minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and a monopusher chronograph with a split-seconds function. With its large face, donning the Grand Complication on your wrist may come as a bit of a challenge, but it’s one not nearly as arduous as obtaining the watch itself – only six pieces were created.