The World’s Most Expensive Clock: A Brief History and How Much It Costs

Have you ever wondered what the world’s most expensive clock looks like? The world’s most expensive clock has a history that spans for centuries and retails for more than £5million. The Duc d’Orleans Breguet Symapthique Clock currently stands as the world’s most expensive clock auctioned at $6.8 million (£5.2 million).

Clock enthusiasts spend thousands of pounds collecting different timepieces, some over a hundred years old, some engraved with the world’s most delicate carvings and precious stones. So what exactly makes the world’s most expensive clock so valuable? 

A Brief History 

The Duc d’Orleans Breguet Symapthique Clock was designed by Breguet founder, Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795. The piece even features a detachable gold pocket watch that sits on a gold throne at the top of the clock.  The timepiece boasts of old age riches and upper class fortune, the piece is encased in gold and features intricate designs such as two golden cherubim’s that perch at the top of the clock. 

Sympathique Clocks

It could be argued that the real prized possession of the Breguet timepiece empire is not the 500 piece collection of pocket watches but the select Sympathique Clocks designed and developed in the 1790’s and onwards. These unique and prized clocks were unique not just for their eye-catching appearance but for their ostentatious display of wealth in a time when most people could not afford sufficient food to feed their families. 

The Sympathique Clocks were presented to the public for the first time in a national exhibition in 1978, these clocks had a never seen before system that consisted of a clock and a watch on the same timepiece. The unique system was designed so the “clock holds the watch which, when placed in a recess, was automatically adjusted and reset” – Breguet Clocks

What does Sympathique mean? 

Breguet selected the term sympathique to express a nation of harmony and concord. It is believed that the use of the phrase ‘sympathy’ represents the mystical universal principle that the organs of the human body, the human race and the cosmos are harmoniously united. 

The Sympathique Clock made Begruet a famous horologist, but the unique designs remained complex and costly to produce. Abraham Louis and Antoine-Louis Breguet only sold 6 sympathique clocks between them and all were bought by kings or princes. 

Duc d’Orleans Breguet Symapthique Clock

The sympathique clock was a product of this intricate and complex development process. In 2012, the clock set a new auction record for the most expensive clock when it was bought for $6.8 million at Sotheby’s New York Important Watches and Clocks auction.  

The clock itself features an elegant ormolu-mounted red tortoiseshell sympathique quarter striking clock with a half-quarter repeating gold watch automatically wound, set and regulated via the clock itself. Out of the sympathique clock collection, the Duc d’Orleans has the most complex mechanism which is only intensified by its jaw dropping case. 

The Duc d’Orleans is the only sympathique that has the ability to wind, set to time and regulate its watch using the integrated cradle mounted on the clock’s pediment. 

No wonder the Duc d’Orleans Breguet Sympathique clock is the most expensive clock in the world. What do you love about the Duc d’Orleans? Let us know in the comments. 

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