We’ve seen some pretty fantastic watches for women over the years that often tap out at more than a million dollars thanks to some pretty incredible gem setting. Sometimes, these watches are dripping in diamonds, other times they are magnificently set with gemstones in anything from a rainbow of colors to full-set rubies, sapphires and other stones. However, there are a host of brands that build million-dollar watches for men, as well.
Though few and far between, $1 million watches for men might sometimes have a few high gemstones on them, but predominantly, they command the big numbers because of the complicated watchmaking, technological advancements and superb craftsmanship inside and out. Some of the most complicated of these $1-million watches can boast hundreds or even a thousand individual mechanical components in their “heart” – each meticulously finished and decorated even though they are typically never seen by the owner’s eye.
Additionally, the world’s most expensive watches for men can boast multiple high-complications and incredibly high-tech materials that place them in a class of their own. Most of the time, these watches are the result of years of research and development, and – once ready to be built – can take a year for a single watchmaker to assemble. For the finest brands, sometimes, the sky is the limit and they will stop at nothing to offer up uniqueness — no matter the price. Here, we take a look at six million-dollar men’s watches.
Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal
Independent watch brand Richard Mille is no stranger to million-dollar watches. In fact, at any given time, the brand is bound to have at least a few watches in its repertoire in that price range, with many more not too far behind in prices. This is a brand that spends tons of time and research (yes, and money, too) in the realm of new materials. Year after year, Richard Mille has unveiled watches made of proprietary materials or substances never before used in the watch world. Those materials have earned the brand a reputation for innovation and cutting-edge, futuristic watches. After all, a great material needs to be used in a great design, although sometimes the design of the watch comes first, and then the work goes into finding the proper materials to deliver the weight and functions needed.
Either way, one of the most thrilling watches of this year is the RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal. Retailing for just a tad over $1 million – at $1,050,000 – this watch pays tribute to its namesake and honors the 10-year partnership between tennis legend Rafael Nadal and Richard Mille. The watch boasts a tennis-racquet motif inspired by the netting of Rafa’s tennis racquet. The movement is suspended inside the watch and surrounded by a mesh netting that is made using 855 square millimeters of cable of braided steel. The cable even weaves through the movement, which is held in place by PVD and rose-gold tensioners. The cable is affixed to the bezel, passing through the grade 5 titanium 38 times. The case is made of a high-tech carbon fiber and polymer called TitaCarb® that is super light in weight and yet incredibly strong. The watch is designed to withstand an acceleration of more than 12,000 g’s – a necessity when worn by Nadal on the courts. Just 50 pieces of the watch will be made.
Patek Philippe Ref. 6301P Grande and Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater
It’s hard to believe that with so much history behind this legendary brand, there is something it has yet to make – until now. This year, Patek Philippe unveils the Patek Philippe Ref. 6301P Grande and Petite Sonnerie and Minute Repeater watch that symbolizes the first time the brand has created a chiming watch without any other high complication such as tourbillon or perpetual calendar. It does boast a jumping-seconds complication, which is no easy feat, but that is just to offer the beauty of something constantly moving on the elegant and classic Grand Feu enamel dial.
The watch combines a Grand Sonnerie that chimes the hours and quarter hours, a Petite Sonnerie that chimes the hours and a Silence mode in case the wearer wishes to turn the chimes off. It also is equipped with a minute repeater that, upon demand, chimes the hours, the quarter hours, and the minutes past the quarter hours on three gongs. The movement inside this watch is all-new, consists of 703 individual components, and holds two patents. It is crafted in platinum and will be limited in production due to the time-consuming work involved in its making. The brand does not release the price, but we know it is more than a million dollars.
Jacob & Co Astronomia Flawless Imperial Dragon – Price USD 1,500,000
Another brand that regularly turns out watches in the million-dollar realm (often because of the incredible gemstone settings added to the complicated watches), Jacob & Co. now offers the beloved Astronomia watch with a complete sapphire case with a sculpted Imperial dragon that winds its way around the movement. Completely visible, the 18-karat gold dragon is hand-sculpted and hand-painted and the work to create the four-piece creature takes more than three months of meticulous sculpting. The dragon protects the complex movement that consists of almost 400 pieces, including a double-axis tourbillon. There is even a 288-facet Jacob-cut diamond that rotates around the dial to add visual allure. This version, with a red hand-painted gold dragon, is a unique piece, but additional dragon watches – perhaps in other colors – might be made. It retails for $1.5 million.
If a million bucks is just a tiny bit too rich for your blood, take a look at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel watch, which retails for a cool $960,000. The leftover $40,000 might help pay for taxes. This watch was six years in the research and development stages and is one of the brand’s most complicated watches thanks to the Gyrotourbillon, the audible Westminster chimes, and the perpetual calendar.
The distinctive Gyrotourbillon is a spherical shaped escapement that boasts multiple-axis tourbillons that rotate at different speeds to compensate for errors in timekeeping when the watch is in any position on the wrist. A miniaturized version of a previous model (this one is 15 percent smaller), the watch is powered by the Caliber 184 consisting of a massive 1,050 individual components. Among them, four gongs on which the repeater sounds the time using Westminster chime tones.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers – Price USD 8,000,000
Vacheron Constantin regularly releases one-of-a-kind unique pieces in its Les Cabinotiers collection. Sometimes those pieces are built at the request of a customer, and other times they are the brainchild of the brand’s master watchmakers who challenge themselves to rise to new heights. Sometimes, these unique pieces carry retail prices in the close-to-a-million category. Sometimes they are more. It all depends on how complex the watch is. For instance, the Reference 57260, made at the request of a customer and taking eight years to complete, is the most complicated watch in the world. The two-sided bespoke pocket watch consists of 2,800 movement parts and sold for $8 million. Have an inkling for something truly special and happy to go to the million-plus-dollar mark? Check out Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Atelier watches, if you can find them. They are rare and when they are released, they sell quickly to collectors who are avidly awaiting the unique pieces.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur One-Off – Price USD 1,000,000
Another brand that regularly turns out one-of-a-kind watches in the $700,000 and up category is Roger Dubuis. Released earlier this year, this Excalibur One-Off, for instance, will not be recreated in red, but a different color or a different material version could be made. This watch is in the brand’s 47mm Spider case made of C-SMC carbon with carbon-ceramic bezel and red liquid ceramic minute markers. In addition to the high-tech materials, the watch is powered by an in-house movement that offers jumping hour and double flying tourbillon escapements inset on a 90-degree angle. The retail price was a cool million when it sold.
Hublot Big Bang – Price USD 5,000,000
Hublot‘s set this Big Bang with a staggering total of 1,282 diamonds. There are 302 baguette-cut diamonds on the case, 179 baguette-cut diamonds on the dial, 782 diamonds on the bracelet, and six emerald-cut diamonds above three carats, a 1.06-carat rose-cut diamond, and 12 additional baguettes. It took Hublot over a year to source some of the largest stones and 17 cutters and setters who worked for seven months to set them. The watch is powered by Hublot’s self-winding 1100 Caliber, with about a 42-hour power reserve. The first watch is rumored to have been bought by Beyoncé for Jay-Z’s on his 43rd birthday, but Hublot will probably be happy to make you another if you have the money.
While there are other brands that also produce watches in this price range, these are the brands that consistently travel in this sphere with small limited edition series or bespoke pieces.
About the Author
Roberta Naas is a veteran watch and jewelry journalist who began her career in the early 1980’s, and was the first female watch journalist in the United States. She is the editor and founder of the authoritative watch blog, ATimelyPerspective, has written six books on watches, writes for numerous consumer publications (including Forbes and Elite Traveler) – and always brings forth in her work the essence of what makes watches tick. She tirelessly travels the world in search of watch news and stories that she turns into compelling and enlightening articles.