In 1989, Patek Philippe created a very special pocket watch to commemorate the company´s 150th anniversary. This was the Patek Philippe Calibre 89 – with two dials, 24 hands, 33 complications (features) and 1,728 components.
Back then, Patek Philippe marketed their anniversary watch as “the most complicated watch in the world”, dethroning the Patek Philippe Henry Grave Supercomplication which had been the world´s most complicated watch since 1933.
Five years or R&D went into the process of creating the Patek Philippe Calibre 89. The very first Patek Philippe Calibre 89 – known as the yellow-gold Caliber 89 – weighs 1,1 kilograms and is made from 18 carat gold. Nine years later, three other Caliber 89 watches were released: one in rose gold, one in white gold and one in platinum. Each watch has a (total) diameter of 89 mm and a (total) thickness of 41 mm.
Examples of complications
- 12-hour recorder
- Hour of second time zone
- Split second hand
- Day of the week
- Day of the month
- Century decade and year displays
- Leap year indicator
- Time of sunrise
- Time of sunset
- Equation of time
- Sun hand
- Moon phase display
- Star chart
- Date of Easter
- Winding crown position indicator
- Power reserve
A true collector´s item
As mentioned above, there are only four Patek Philippe Calibre 89 watches, and they are exquisite in every way. Even just the raw materials that went into making them are highly valuable.
The yellow-gold Caliber 89 is made from 18 carat gold and adorned with 129 jewels. The complicated machinery requires 184 wheels, 332 screws, 415 pinions, 429 mechanical components and 1,728 total components. The functions are driven by three mainspring barrels.
The white-gold Calibre 89 was sold at auction by Antiquorum in 2004, and the same auctioneer handled the sale of the yellow-gold Calibre 89 in 2009. The final price exceeded 5 million USD for each watch, and they both rank among the top ten most expensive watches ever sold at auction.
In May 2017, the yellow-gold Calibre 89 was offered at Sotheby´s, but remained unsold due to disappointing biddings. The estimated price had been set to $6.4 million to $9.9 million, perhaps fuelled by the fact that a Patek Philippe Ref.1518 sold by Philipps Bacs & Russo in November the previous year had fetched a pretty $11 million (despite a starting price of just $3 million). Another possible influence for the optimistic valuation was the illustrious Sotheby action in 2014 when a Patek Philipe Henry Graves Supercomplication went for $24 million – one million per complication – setting a new price record for pocket watches sold at auction.
The complication record held for 26 years
For 26 years, the Patek Patek Philippe Calibre 89 held the record for most complicated watch in the world. On September 17, 2015, this record was broken by the release of the Reference 57260 by Vacheron Constantin – a watch with 57 complications.