Time­piece sets a new record

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

T’S MANY a sun­rise since I was short of time. It all be­gan on Christ­mas Day a few decades ago. Among the con­tents of my fes­tive stock­ing was some­thing I had long cov­eted: a watch. But among a flood of tears, it turned out to be just a toy, with a dial de­pict­ing nurs­ery rhyme char­ac­ters.

The fam­ily got the mes­sage and since then I’ve lost count of how many watches have passed through my hands and van­ished thanks to loss or theft or be­cause they have sim­ply called it a day.

What set me on this train of thought was a news item I read the other day about a pocket watch be­ing auc­tioned in New York by Sotheby’s for the equiv­a­lent of R270 mil­lion.

This in­cred­i­ble cre­ation, the Patek Philippe Su­per­com­pi­la­tion, has 920 com­po­nents, all made en­tirely by hand.

It boasts 24 func­tions, in­clud­ing play­ing the West­min­ster chimes and de­pict­ing the sky at night over New York’s Cen­tral Park.

The watch was made in 1925 for a New York banker who aimed to sur­prise James Ward Packard, the Ohio ve­hi­cle maker. Why, I don’t know; big money ri­valry, pre­sum­ably.

But both would have been amazed at the lat­est price paid for the master­piece, a record for an auc­tioned time­piece. The anony­mous win­ning bid was made by phone.

I

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