The Marie Antoinette Watch

The Marie Antoinette Watch – £17.6million

A watch so valuable they decided to reconstruct it. The Marie Antoinette pocket watch is a timepiece surrounded with rumours and encased in gold. The watch itself is named after the French Queen for whom it was intended and has been appropriately dubbed ‘the Queen’. It’s a watch worthy of royalty, however it is doubtful that Her Majesty Elizabeth II or any other royal figure will be receiving one for their next birthday, seeing as only 2 of the pocket watches exist. One of which is currently held by Swatch and the other by an Islamic art museum in Jerusalem.

Rock crystal was used to create the transparent face of the Marie Antoinette watch, showcasing its intricate mechanics and adornments. That includes the sapphires the horologist Breguet used to reduce the friction of the clock’s gear. The timepiece has the current approximated value of £17.6 million; evidence that time really is money. Its worth can be attributed to its design, the materials it’s constructed from as well as its rich and remarkable history. The Marie Antoinette watch is composed of 823 parts; many of which are composed of gold like its outer shell. It is the 5th most complicated clock on the planet.

Who originally commissioned the watch? Supposedly one of the French Queen’s admirers named Count Hans Axel von Fersen; a Swedish nobleman rumoured to be her lover. The expensive gift took 44 years to construct by Breguet himself, who sadly never died before being able to finish his masterpiece. Completion of the watch was accomplished by Breguet’s son in 1827. The watch’s intended owner also never saw the timepiece completed, due to being executed by her own people during the French revolution in 1792; 34 years before its completion. Marie Antoinette was said to be unpopular with her people for her alleged promiscuity and her extravagant wastes of money (the gift of the watch itself serving as an example of her standards).

The Theft and Recovery of the Marie Antoinette Watch

As time went on, the Marie Antoinette watch exchanged hands and became an exhibit within the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art, located in Jerusalem. It was here, on April 16th 1983, that the watch was stolen by the renowned thief Na’aman Diller. In 2006 the spoils of his robbery were recovered in secret when Diller’s wife managed to anonymously broker a deal with the museum owners through her lawyer, Hila Gabai. The press were eventually notified in 2007 and the original Marie Antoinette watch eventually came back into the public domain.

Nicholas G. Hayek of the Breguet watch company (acquired by Swatch in 1999) set his team of watchmakers the task of producing a replica of the Marie Antoinette watch in 2005; the original, at the time, was still believed to be lost. The team had only the images of the original as guidance. Three years later the replica of the watch was completed and is now kept in a wooden box, fashioned from the same oak tree which Marie Antoinette was often known to daydream under.

At present, the original model of The Queen currently resides within the same museum in Jerusalem from which it was stolen from, only now it is kept within a high security, bullet proof case. Long live the Queen.

Click here for a rundown of the Top Ten Most Expensive Watches

About the Author:

Adam is a freelance writer that focuses on luxury asset trends for Borro Private Finance.