$10M Philippe Dufour Becomes Most Expensive Independent Watch Ever Sold

Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3 joined the world’s top 10 most expensive watches sold publicly and placed Philippe Dufour as the world’s most expensive independent watchmaker. Although this might seem like a very specific niche, the sale of Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3 created a buzz in the whole watchmaking industry when the hammer closed the bidding at $10M AUD ($7.63M US). 

The $10M Philippe Dufour was recently sold from an auction in London by A Collected Man on August 16th. As the London-based dealer hoped, their latest listing, the grail Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3, became their most expensive sold watch and broke world records during the process. 

The watch was made by hand by Mr. Dufour in 1995 and was handed at the same year to the Sultan of Brunei. The latter is notoriously known for being a high-caliber watch collector. Courtesy of his $30B fortune. After the purchase from the Sultan of Brunei, the watch made its last public appearance a decade ago, to wow us again on August 16th, 2021. 

The Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3 belongs to a limited edition of only 8 pieces created and it is the third of that lot to leave the master craftsmen workshop. Who bought the $7.63M US Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3? We have no clue, however, the new lucky owner for sure has some deep pockets and a refined taste for watchmaking craftsmanship. That’s a no-brainer!

Who is Philippe Dufour?

Born in 1948 in Le Chenit, Switzerland, Philippe Dufour is world known as one of the greatest masters of modern watchmaking. The Swiss-born independent watchmaker has created some of the most coveted timepieces in the last five decades, delivering mechanical watches entirely made by hand, with no help from modern industrial tools. The work of Mr. Dufour starts with the design of the watch, continues with the creation of high-grade and complex in-house movements, and finishes with classic and stunning metal polish. 

Before being one of the greatest independent watchmakers and recently the most expensive one, Philippe Dufour has worked for some of the big players of the watchmaking industry. Including here Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, and Gerald Genta. Equipped with the technical know-how and the necessary experience acquired by the notorious Swiss brands, in 1978 Philippe Dufour decided to open his workshop where his watch parts would all be created. Mr. Dufour is the man and the brand and the entire watchmaking process is in absolute control of the Swiss independent watchmaker. 

Brilliant watchmaking and rare complications

A grande sonnerie complication strikes four times every hour, 24 hours every day for the rest of its days. This takes considerable time and effort as watchmakers, in this case, Mr. Philippe Dufour, had to ensure that everything is on-point, the chime timing, the right tone, and the correct number of strikes. And not to forget about the wrist kinetic energy that is transferred to the mechanism which runs the striking mechanism and primarily, keeps track of time. The sliders aside the crown adjust the complications as you can enable or silence the chiming and also set the timepiece to Grande Sonnerie or Petite Sonnerie setting. And if you please, you can manually activate the minute repeater thanks to a pusher on the crown. 

Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3 comes with a rose gold case and white enamel dial. It was completed in 1995 after 9 months of work and was delivered to the Sultan of Brunei. But the watch is all about what’s ticking underneath. The chiming mechanism, a remarkable movement, chimes the time as it passes. Not to be mistaken with repeaters, Grande and Petite Sonnerie complications chime/strike every full hour and every quarter without any involvement from the wearer. And yes, you can set the machine on ”silent mode”. Strike watches were the first timekeeping tools with the chime being the tool to keep track of elapsed time which later was replaced by watch hands. And after some history lessons nobody asked for, let us keep justifying the whopping $7.63M US one recently paid for a wristwatch. Read on….

Our Take – What’s so special about Dufour’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3

Aside from being a start-to-end handcrafted watch, with extreme exclusivity and rare workmanship from the dial to the movement – the Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3 is a work of art on its own. The timepiece sets itself apart from the Holy Trinity of Switzerland (Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin) and other exclusive watchmakers like Franck Muller or Greubel Forsey. 

Dufour’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie 3 is the successor of the world’s first wristwatch to be equipped with a Grande Sonnerie complication. The latter is one of the most brilliant and extraordinary complications that just like your grandfather’s old pocket clock, also chimes the time as it passes. Learn more about the $10M AUD Philippe Dufour here