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Sale price: $11,002,500
Sale date: Dec. 2, 1999
The 18-karat gold pocket watch made by Patek Philippe for banker Henry Graves Jr. in 1933 required five years to design and build. It possessed 24 "complications," or mechanical features beyond basic timekeeping, including a different chronological function for each hour of the day, a chart of the nighttime sky over New York City complete with the magnitudes of the stars and the Milky Way, and a minute repeater whose chimes played the same melody heard in London's Big Ben. It was the most complicated watch ever created and the most expensive watch ever sold at auction—a record that has yet to be broken. Until it came up for auction at Sotheby's (BID) New York in 1999 as part of the "Masterpieces of the Time Museum," it had remained in private hands for 66 years. It has stayed in the hands of the anonymous winner ever since.