What Are The Rarest Watches Ever Made?

What Are The Rarest Watches Ever Made?

Watches serve as far more than functional timepieces. These stylish accessories can also be extremely valuable due to their rare materials, historic design features, and extensive complications. Whether you’re a collector yourself or just intrigued by the prospect of rare finds, you’ll find this article a fascinating rundown of the rarest watches in the world.

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Watches

The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 is the most expensive watch ever sold, going for $31.19 million at auction in 2019.  This one-of-a-kind piece is the only Grandmaster Chime ever made from stainless steel. The watch was crafted in 2014 in celebration of Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary. It’s the most complicated wristwatch that the brand has ever made with a striking 20 complications across two dials. Seven years, over 100,000 hours, and six patents went into the creation of this masterpiece.

The watch features several striking functions: a patented acoustic alarm, a patented date repeater, and a patented mechanism that allows you to swivel and lock the double-faced case. The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime also has a perpetual calendar, a moon phase display, a second time zone, and much more. Exquisite craftsmanship is apparent in all of its 1,366 components. 

Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication Ref. 198.385

As the name suggests, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication Ref. 198.385 is one of the most complicated pocket watches in the world. With 24 complications, it even outperforms the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010. Banker Henry Graves Jr. commissioned the piece to outdo automaker James Ward Packard’s Grande Complication pocket watch. Among its complications are a moon phase display, indicators for sunrise and sunset, a perpetual calendar, and an equation of time. 

The highly customized pocket watch even includes a celestial chart for the night sky as seen over New York City at 40 degrees 41.0 minutes North latitude. It took three years to design the watch and another five to build it using 920 individual parts. Delivered to Graves on January 19, 1933, this was the most complicated pocket watch of its time. Today, it maintains the distinction of being the most complicated mechanical watch made without computerized assistance. In 2014, this watch went for $24 million at auction.

Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in Stainless Steel

Only four of the Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in stainless steel were ever made. It’s so rare that not even the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva possesses one. This watch sold exclusively on the Italian market, making it an especially rare find in the United States. This watch was introduced in 1941 and was originally sold for $2,265 (or $38,000 in today’s money). It sold for $11.137 million in 2016. At the time, it was the most expensive wristwatch in the world. 

This was the first wristwatch ever made with a perpetual calendar chronograph and is the only one of its kind made in steel. Most of the 281 Patek Philippe 1518 watches that were produced were made from yellow or rose gold. The Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 features a perpetual calendar chronograph complete with moon phases and a tachymeter scale. 

Cartier Cheich

The Cartier Cheich watch was designed exclusively for the individual who could win two consecutive Paris-Dakar races in the Cartier Challenge. Though the feat was thought to be nearly impossible, Belgian racer Gaston Rahier completed the challenge with two back-to-back wins in 1984 and 1985. Jacques Diltoer, the then-president of Cartier, designed the watch. It features a distinctive border that was crafted to resemble the cheich that desert natives wrap around their heads for sun protection.

Four iterations of the watch originally existed. There were two of the original male version, and a smaller version was made for any female winner to complete the challenge, but this was never awarded to anyone. A fourth watch was produced for the race founder Theirry Sabine, but this one is considered lost, and the other two remain in Cartier’s collection. This leaves just one available on the market. This Cartier Cheich sold for $1.1 million in 2022, nearly tripling the estimated $400,000 thought to be the highest going price for this piece.

Rolex Ref. 4113 Split Second Chronograph

There are only 12 examples of the Rolex Ref. 4113 in existence, ranking it among some of the rarest watches in the world. This is the only split-seconds watch Rolex ever produced. This means that the watch features two overlapping seconds hands, one of which remains hidden until activated. The purpose of the split-seconds hand is to measure two race times at once. For this reason, the exclusive Rolex Ref. 4113 was only distributed to drivers and car racing teams. Since this watch was never sold publicly, its rarity factor is off the charts. 

This Rolex features a massive 44 mm watch face that’s strikingly slim. The face features a number of fascinating measurements, including the tachymeter scale to measure speed over distance and a telemetry scale to measure the distance of lighting based on the timing of thunder. The watch is currently valued at $2.4 million.

Rolex Zerographe Ref. 3346

Even rarer than the Rolex Ref. 4113, the Rolex Zerographe Ref. 3346 made history as the first Rolex to feature in-house movement. A small button at the 2 o’clock position causes the second hand to jump back to zero and stay there until the button is released. It served primarily as a prototype when it was originally produced in 1937. Though the chronograph movement leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of functionality, the Rolex Zerographe Ref. 3346 watch is a desirable collector’s item, primarily due to its historic value.

Rolex only made between seven and 12 of the Zerographe Ref. 3346. Just four of them have been identified today. In 2013, one specimen sold for CHF 387,750, which is about $427,925.

Discover More Rare Watches

Are you interested in seeking out some rare finds of your own? Las Vegas Jewelry and Coin Buyers in Las Vegas, Nevada, maintains a collection of distinctive watches that’s always changing. Feel free to stop by and see what we’ve discovered recently. You may just find your own precious rarity to take home.