In the world of high end watches, prices can get eye-wateringly high.
While these price ranges might not make a whole lot of sense to the average person, these watches, which can easily enter the seven figure realm, still have a strong market.
Here is a list of 10 rare and expensive watches, including a brief description of what makes them so special and how much people are willing to pay to get their hands on one.
Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar Grande Complication
For the Patek Phillippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar Grand Complication, the complexity and thus the price of this timepiece relates to two factors.
First of all, the Grande Complication will automatically adjust the day of the month to the number of days in a given month, meaning that owners don’t have to make adjustments to the date between months that have 31, 30, or 28 days.
Secondly, this watch will also automatically adjust for the extra day in leap years, which adds an exceptionally complicated requirement to an already complex mechanical movement.
Along with the amazing craftsmanship in mechanical design, Patek Philippe has taken visual design and style to another level with the Grande Complication.
Available in white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, platinum, and diamonds, it’s clear that these watches will appeal to certain people with very large budgets over $900,000 and up to nearly $2,000,000.
Patek Phillipe Nautilus Tiffany
The Nautilus range from Patek Philippe is one of the most popular designs this luxury brand has created. However, when it comes to creating exclusivity and scarcity, the Nautilus Tiffany limited edition took things to a whole new level.
First introduced in 2021, Patek Philippe only made 170 units before discontinuing the model in 2022, and the original sales were only available directly through Tiffany & Co. Its reference is 5711/1A-018.
This highly desirable timepiece has a stainless steel watch case and strap and a watch face in Tiffany’s unique turquoise color. You’ll also notice the Tiffany & Co. logo just above the six o’clock mark.
With only 170 Nautilus Tiffany ever made, and many celebrities like Jay Z, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, and LeBron James owning one of these masterpieces, it’s a difficult watch to get your hands on and will require a mid to high 7-figure budget.
Rolex John Mayer
It doesn’t get much more rewarding than having a Rolex watch named after you. But avid watch collector and musician John Mayer achieved that with the introduction of the Rolex Daytona John Mayer edition.
What makes this Rolex Daytona stand out is the abundance of yellow gold in the watch case and strap, in addition to a stunning green face complete with the standard Daytona chronograph.
Using precious metals in this way adds to the visual luxury but also the instant recognition that this isn’t just another Rolex Daytona.
After Rolex announced it would end production of this iconic gold watch in 2023, the pre-owned and aftermarket price has increased a lot over its original 2018 retail price of $37,500. You’ll need a budget over $70,000 to get a chance of owning the John Mayer edition, and there’s a chance that the price might go up even more.
Rolex Paul Newman
The Rolex Paul Newman may have been one of the very first influencer watches. This timepiece from Rolex’s famous Daytona range was one of the first the company specifically advertised with one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the time.
The Paul Newman Rolex can only be found within the reference number 6239, 6241, 6262, 6264, 6263, and 6265.
Rolex made about 24,000 units between 1963 and 1972, which coincided with the peak of Paul Newman’s acting career.
At the time, Rolex chose the Valjoux manual wind movement, which is still sought after by watch collectors and investors. You’ll also notice the typical Daytona watch face with three smaller hands to make up the stopwatch function.
Out of the approximately 24,000 made, only 1,000 have a yellow gold case and strap with either 14k or 18k gold.
For collectors, these gold Paul Newmans are the most sought after and they rarely come up for sale or auction, with prices usually in excess of $1 million.
The stainless steel models generally start at $250,000 in trusted pre-owned marketplaces.
Rolex Daytona Rainbow
Arguably one of the most instantly recognizable and stand-out luxury watches from Rolex, the Daytona Rainbow has become very popular with celebrities, which has driven up the pre-owned market price a lot.
Even when it was first introduced in 2012, the combination of 18k gold and diamonds meant these watches were at the higher end of the Daytona Price range at about $100,000.
While many may think at first glance that this model is a gaudy custom, it’s actually a unique model that is highly coveted on the aftermarket.
The main attraction of this Rolex is the rainbow-colored bezel, and unlike other Rolex models with brightly colored bezels (e.g., the Rolex Pepsi), this Daytona also has diamonds on the bezel.
The result is a sparkling appearance in all the colors of the rainbow that gives it such a highly recognizable design. It can be found with either a white or yellow gold bracelet, and the reference number ends in RBOW.
Rolex discontinued the Rainbow Daytona in 2018, and the pre-owned market price starts at $500,000.
For people looking for a truly unique luxury watch that will definitely attract attention, the Cartier Crash has one of the most iconic and recognizable designs.
The misshaped watch case and face of this timepiece literally look like they were squashed in a crash. When you add the extremely limited production numbers, it quickly becomes clear why these watches are high up on collector’s lists.
Cartier first introduced the Crash in the late 80s and sporadically released new models throughout the 90s, and it has since become a celebrity favorite.
You’ll find this watch mainly with white and yellow gold cases and bracelets that also give it a very luxurious shine.
Cartier recently relaunched the Crash with a limited production number, requiring an application to be considered for the latest model, which includes 150 diamonds on the case.
Because of the scarcity and the limited access, the aftermarket price often exceeds $125,000, even though the official price is $96,000.
The significantly cheaper alternative, the Exaequo Softwatch, has gained popularity in recent years in large part thanks to its association with the Cartier Crash. Its original retail price was a mere $250, and although the price has risen, it is still fairly affordable at a $2000-$3000 range.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph
Lange & Söhne is a small luxury watch brand from Germany, and the company has created a rare and sought-after timepiece with the Datograph.
First launched in 1999, the initial generation was available until 2011, before the company introduced slight changes in the design and improvements in the mechanism.
What you will find in the newest model is a watch with one of the longest power reserves (60 hours) in a manual wind movement.
What’s unique about the watch face design is the outsize date and the addition of a dial that indicates how much power reserve is left.
Lange & Söhne also doesn’t hold back when it comes to using luxury materials, including platinum, rose gold, and pink gold for the case and parts of the watch face.
Prices for these luxury timepieces are not publicly advertised, and you have to apply in order to own one. Based on the best available information, current retail prices are about $180,000.
However, some of the older pre-owned models are available above $90,000.
Richard Mille RM 027
The RM 027 is one of the rarest Richard Mille watches available, with only 50 made.
The main idea and challenge behind this piece of master craftsmanship was to make it extremely robust and accurate under the extreme forces it would be under while worn by a professional tennis player.
Not surprisingly, this luxury watch was made in collaboration with one of the greatest tennis stars of all time, Rafal Nadal.
The end result is a watch made from extremely tough and lightweight titanium, which is a very difficult material to work with.
Beyond the incredibly unique effect of the black titanium case, the watch face is what stands out the most, even when you consider that it’s made by a company known for its truly unique designs.
With only 50 units ever made and the endorsement of Rafal Nadal, it shouldn’t be any surprise that when one of these watches comes up for sale, the price exceeds $1.3 million.
Richard Mille RM 055
The RM 055 is also known as the Bubba Watson after the famous golfer and 2012 Masters Champion.
In a similar fashion to other Richard Mille watches made for, or in collaboration with, sports stars, the RM 055 was produced in very limited numbers.
Only 90 of these amazing timepieces ever hit the market and were only available to carefully selected customers. As a result, the current pre-owned prices are in excess of $450,000.
What’s special about the RM 055 is the extremely tough and hard-wearing grade 5 titanium case with a completely black appearance.
The manual wind movement was designed to withstand regular shock impacts that would be common when swinging a golf club.
But it’s the skeletonized watch face and movement that makes it truly exceptional. With a stark contrast of the movement on a pure white face and strap, you can see straight through the movement and out of the back of the case, which you don’t find with many other luxury brands.
Vacheron Constantin OverseasPerpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton Rose Gold
One of the biggest attractions of the Vacheron Constantin ultra-thin Overseas range is the technology that has resulted in one of the thinnest complex mechanisms on the market.
See, the more complexity you add, like date, day, and month, as well as automatically adjusting for the number of days in a month, the thicker the watch needs to be.
However, Vacheron Constantin decided to add another layer of complexity by accounting for leap years with perpetual accuracy up to the year 2100.
Achieving that in the first place is difficult, but the company somehow managed to do this within the constraints of a case that is only 8.1mm thick.
This particular skeleton version allows you to see the mechanism rather than an opaque watch face and was made using pink gold polished to a smooth and satin finish.
The retail price for this Vacheron Constantin Overseas is in the region of $110,000. The main reason for this is the scarcity, complexity, and overall gold content in the case.
In the pre-owned market, prices are more extreme; expect to pay upwards of $250,000 on trusted and reputable marketplaces.
Enter the rare and expensive watch market with Timepiece Profits
If you want to learn all the ins and outs of why watches are so expensive and how you can get a piece of the exciting and potentially profitable luxury watch market, you can start with limited budget and build up to trading more expensive models with the Timepiece Profits 3 part guide.
What is the Most Expensive Watch in the World?
While the exact watch model that is currently most expensive might change, the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime reference 6300a-010 is significant in that it had a high retail price in addition to an even higher auction price. The original retail for this highly coveted model was approximately $2.6 milllion, and with a sale price of $31 million at auction in 2019, it became the most expensive watch ever sold.
Why Are High End Watches So Expensive?
High end watches are expensive for many reasons, including the quality and cost of the materials being used to build them and the intricate labor needed to make them hold time accurately. Additionally, the market demand and their historic significance as an alternative asset with potential to appreciate in value makes them a luxury good with a steep entry purchase. For a full guide on this topic, read our post Why Are Watches So Expensive?
Why do Richard Mille Watches Cost So Much ?
One of the most expensive watch brands in the world is the Richard Mille watch. The cheapest model, the RM-016 has a retail price of $60,000, while the RM 62-01 manual winding with tourbillon has a retail price of $1,225,0000. The reason they cost so much is due to a number of reasons, including the complicated movements which take many hours of highly skilled hand labor to construct, on top of the materials already being expensive and hard to source.
What Makes Rolex Expensive?
Rolex is known to be quite expensive to the average person, with most of the basic models such as the Submariner starting at $8950 retail, often with a 20-30% markup in the aftermarket. Rolex watches are expensive because of the high quality of materials used, and the intricate Swiss craftsmanship needed to make them reliable and accurate timekeepers.