When you’ve been making stunning timepieces for as long as Patek Phillipe has, you get the urge to push the boundaries of precision. That’s exactly what the watch brand did when they created the Grand Complication. They also broke the mould.
With such precision at the core of the Complication it’s staggering to see the layers of confusion and mystery that surround its origins. The very first grand complication was ordered in 1910, with a second commissioned in 1916 by James Ward Packard. However, the discovery of a further Grand Complication in 2013 owned by Stephen S. Palmer Patek Philippe takes the top spot as the earliest grand complication.
The Palmer Grand Complication has a Patek calibre, a minute repeating perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph clockwatch with grande and petite sonnerie as well as moon phases. While this is exceptional by any standards, it’s critical to understand that this watch was made in the late 1800s. Without access to any of the modern CAD, CNC machines and modelling tools at watchmaker’s disposal, this Grand Complication is utterly amazing – and no-one knew about it until it popped up for auction at Christie’s in 2013.
The watch was in totally pristine, untouched and in its original condition. Alongside the piece itself comes the paperwork, including all of the original warranty documents, and the records of Mr. Palmer’s stay at the Beau Rivage hotel in Geneva while there to receive his watch. The operating instructions that Mr Palmer left for his family are also there and the watch remained within the Palmer family for many generations. Incredibly, Mr Palmer bought three watches on this same day, including the Grand Complication at 6000 Swiss Francs, trading one watch on exchange.
The Palmer Grand Complication is the only early model in pink gold, rather than the later yellow gold used. Although it was anticipated that the watch would fetch between $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 at auction in 2013, the Palmer Grand Complication eventually took $2,250,000.