This Ultra-Rare Patek Philippe Watch Could Fetch $2 Million At Auction

It’s the only watch to feature a portrait-cut diamond as a dial cover instead of a crystal.


Luxury watches from Patek Philippe are among the wonders of the timepiece world, adorned with incredibly complicated movements and intricate designs, and Patek is even responsible for the most expensive watch ever sold online at auction. As if that wasn’t jaw-dropping enough, the latest Patek Philippe to hit the auction block is one of the rarest in the world.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 3843/1 is the only known watch of its kind to feature a portrait-cut diamond as a dial cover, instead of the typical sapphire crystal. Impressive, no?


That’s only one of more than a few reasons it could fetch as much as $2 million at Christies’ “Watches Online: The Dubai Edit” auction that kicked off this week.

The watch is cloaked in mystery and dates back to 1994, when it was completed four years after a single buyer commissioned its creation at the company’s Geneva salon.


At that visit, the mystery buyer presented a rare, antique diamond and offered Patek Philippe a challenge: Make the diamond into the crystal protecting the dial itself.

The 13.43-carat diamond was mounted on a watertight, asymmetrical case, a nod to the watchmaker’s asymmetrical cases dating back to the 1970s.

The special weight of the diamond, plus the year of its commission, are engraved on the reverse of the caseback for posterity.


Facets around the edge of the diamond reflect light in a distinctive way, different than a typical sapphire crystal finish on a watch.

Because of those reflective properties, these lasque diamonds were used as a glaze atop miniature portraits (a “portrait diamond,” Patek Phillipe notes) and were often used exclusively by royalty in the centuries prior.


It isn’t the first time the exquisite watch (boasting a 177-calibre manual winding movement) has come up for auction: A private collector secured the watch in 2016 in Hong Kong via auction.

Wherever this watch ends up, it’s a groundbreaking moment for the horologist and for Christies.

“… Finding anything bespoke is a rare occurrence,” Nitin Nair, Christies’ Dubai watch department specialist, told Christies. “And as for this watch, considering it’s a Patek Philippe — alongside the size and importance of the diamond — selling it is an occasion I doubt will happen again in my career.”