Mudge Green Nautical Clock
FDR Cartier Victory Clock
The Rothschild Egg
In pre-modern times, nautical clocks were the keys to wealth and power. Only a perfectly accurate timepiece could be used by navigators to calculate their latitude. If your clock was even a quarter hour off, a ship’s navigator could only guess at the ship’s coordinates.
Nautical clock production was such a serious business that this masterpiece Mudge Green clock took three years to produce. The result was an object of unprecedented mechanical genius: with using constant force escapement and perfectly designed gear work, this clock keeps time even in the worst sea storms. It is now valued at 1.2 million dollars.
Typically, million dollar clocks are centuries-old, gilt, and elaborate machines made by master craftsmen in Europe, but this clock breaks the mold. This compact clock, made out of onyx and nephrite, was created for President Roosevelt in 1938. It sat on his desk through possibly the darkest days ever seen in the Oval Office. Now, it is valued at 1.6 million dollars.
A truly fine clock can stand the test of time. At almost 310 years young, a Tomas Tompion masterpiece of English engineering still keeps time perfectly, and looks great doing it. It is now valued at around 2 million dollars.
Abraham-Louis Breguet defined the Swiss Watch. Working the 18th and early 19th centuries, he founded the Breguet watch company (now part of Swatch) that influenced the Rolex and other fine watches in Switzerland.
In 1795, he invented the Sympathique clock, a fine Swiss cloth that used mechanical means to synchronize and wind a watch. This was one of the earliest attempts to keep time constant throughout a businessman’s day, and could be considered the start of the modern schedule.
There are only ten Sympathique clocks still intact. The most valuable of them sold recently for 6.8 million dollars.
Size isn’t everything. The most expensive clock in the world is actually incredibly tiny: a Faberge egg inset with a timepiece. This piece, a gold piece given by the Russian tsar to the French Rothschild family, is considered the most intricate and beautiful of Russia’s famous eggs. It recently sold at Sotheby’s for 16.5 million dollars, to a Russian collector.