The myth of Henry Graves Jr vs James Ward Packard

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The myth of Henry Graves Jr vs James Ward Packard

Post by koimaster » September 19th 2017, 9:46am

The story of two American magnates in the early 20th century, locked in a desperate contest to acquire the most complicated — and expensive — watch will be familiar to those acquainted with the brand mythology of the Geneva watchmakers, Patek Philippe.

The spending contest, the clash of egos, the subterfuge are the inevitable ingredients in a story of rival collectors. To add to the clichés, the ultimate prize, the most complicated portable timepiece in the world, has brought misfortune to its owners and is assuredly as cursed as the jewel stolen from a vindictive idol.

The tale of the arms race between staggeringly rich Henry Graves Jr and James Ward Packard, creator of America’s first luxury car, soon bore fruit. Told to a reporter ahead of the Sotheby’s auction of the Graves watch, it persuaded Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani to pay a record-breaking US$11 million at Sotheby’s in 1999 for the victorious supercomplication completed for Graves in 1932.

The sheikh, a member of Qatar’s ruling family, is fondly remembered by dealers and auctioneers for his prolific spending on art and gadgets before forfeiting his wealth fighting corruption charges. The sheik died unexpectedly in 2014, two days before Sotheby’s again sold his Graves watch for US$24 million, making it the most expensive timepiece and earning it the title of the Mona Lisa of watchmaking.

The much-embellished Graves-Packard duel even became the subject of a book, A Grand Complication — The Race to Build the World’s Most Legendary Watch, by Stacy Perman, published in 2013. ... piece.html


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