It was just about 10 days ago that Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2017 came to a close, and as the 30 exhibitors within that space closed down their booths, so, too, did another dozen brands exhibiting around the city. We took stock of the watches that we went hands-on with while at SIHH and in Geneva and here we bring you a look at some of the most expensive watches of 2017. You can expect a host of cumulative trend reports in the weeks to come, but for now, we cut right to the chase: three of the top $1 million dollar watches unveiled in Geneva. Stay Tuned, though, tomorrow we bring you a look at two more million-dollar watches.
Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie, Est. $1.4 million
Those in the know about timepieces of collectible stature know that few brands compare to Greubel Forsey when it comes to ultra complications and chronometric precision. This year, the brand tops itself, though, with its first-ever Grande Sonnerie—a wristwatch that was 11 years in the making — has two patents pending and retails for approximately $1.4 million.
The super complex caliber consists of 855 components (the watch in total, has 935 parts). Not only is the caliber equipped with a specially made resonance cage for perfect chiming acoustics, but also it incorporates cathedral gongs and three hammers. It also, thankfully, has 11 security systems in place so that one doesn’t damage the mechanisms while chiming. As is typical of a Grande Sonnerie, the watch offers Grande Sonnerie striking mode (hours, and quarter hours in passing); Petite Sonnerie (strikes the hours in passing); Silence (to quiet the striking). It also operates as a minute repeater, chiming the hours, quarter hours and minutes on demand. The complicated timepiece is also equipped with the Tourbillon 24 Seconds (inclined tourbillon escapement too compensate for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity on the watch). The 43.5mm titanium case offers clarity of sound. Just five to eight pieces will be built annually.
Richard Mille RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1, Est. $980,000
Not quite reaching the $1 million mark—perhaps by design – the Richard Mille RM 50-03 marks a milestone for the brand. The timepiece is the lightest weight split-seconds chronograph wristwatch in the world – weighing in at just 38 grams thanks to the high-tech materials used in its case, movement and we add just another two grams for the high-tech strap.
It makes sense that the watch be tied to the McLaren F1 team – which is known for utilizing high-tech materials and fraction-of-a-second timing. In fact, it is the first co-branded watch that marks the 10-year partnership between Mille and McLaren-Honda that was announced last year.
Like all Mille timepieces, the watch is cutting edge and marks the first time the brand makes a case out of Graph TPT™, a material not used in watchmaking before. It also sports North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT) Carbon — which has become a sort of signature for Richard Mille tonneau watches of late. Via a compression and injection process, hundreds of layers are bound together to offer a case that is not only unique in looks, but also incredibly durable.
Mille also utilizes high-tech materials for the movement, which weighs just 7 grams and is shock resistant to up to 5,000 Gauss. The manually wound tourbillon offers split-seconds chronograph with 30-minute totalizer and power reserve indications. It also offers torque and function indicators that are controlled by the crown. Just 75 pieces will be made.
Jacob & Co. Astronomia Flawless, Est. $1 million
Showing offsite in the city of Geneva, Jacob & Co. unveiled its newest exceptional timepiece: Astronomia Flawless, estimated at about $1 million.
Inspired by the brand’s earlier Astronomia Gravitational Triple Axis Tourbillon watch with sun, moon and Earth globes, the new Flawless features a fully transparent sapphire case – offering spectacular views of the complicated movement from all sides.
The making of this watch – from movement to case – is incredibly complex. First, it takes about 37 weeks to produce all of the sapphire case components, including the monobloc sapphire case, the case band and lugs, the dome and the caseback. The watch also features a sapphire barrel bridge in the movement, a blue sapphire dial and a sapphire buckle on the blue strap – all of which are created via a complex process of more than a dozen steps taking hundreds of hours – with a final tally of about 1,300 hours to make a single piece.
The manually wound movement – JCAM16 caliber with triple axis tourbillon and 3D sun, Earth, moon orbs — features two 288-facet diamond spheres: a 1-carat Jacob Cut® diamond that acts as the sun; one 2.23-carat Jacob Cut® faceted yellow diamond. Just nine individually numbered pieces will be made.