The Grande et Petite Sonnerie by Philippe Dufour sets a record for the most expensive independent watch ever sold. The rare watch was sold online by ‘A Collected Man’ for £5,505,000, converting to about ₹ 56,19,07,427.
Dufour established himself as a legendary watchmaker with this Grande et Petite Sonnerie movement, which was the first creation of his independent career. After having worked with prestigious brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet, the watchmaker decided to venture out on his own. The initial piece of the series of Grande et Petite Sonnerie watches, took Dufour over two and a half years to complete. The watchmaker then proceeded to make only eight examples of its kind. Five of those feature white enamel dials, three were mounted with a sapphire dial. This particular one was the third to leave the watchmaker’s workshop, and the only one to feature a rose gold case and white enamel dial.
After nine months of hard work, in 1995, the rose gold Grande et Petite Sonnerie was born. What makes this edition so special is its brush with royalty. The watch was first delivered to the Sultan of Brunei, who was a known collector of independent watches.
Reminiscing about the days of its creation, Dufour recalls, “I never stopped, not even for a single day. Not for Christmas, not for holidays, nothing. Every day, I was working. I remember going to sleep around 11 at night, because my eyes were crying from focusing all day.”
The speciality of the Grande et Petite Sonnerie is the movement. It automatically chimes the time as it passes, with the help of small hammers built into the movement. The watch can be set to both Grande Sonnerie or Petite Sonnerie settings. Like a typical Grande Sonnerie it can strike every hour and each quarter while also repeating the hour. It can also strike on the hour and at each quarter without repeating the hour in line with a Petite Sonnerie. A hidden slider at 4 o’clock is used to switch between the settings. Enhancing its collector’s value is “N.3”, etched onto the movement, indicating its order within production.
The design of this timepiece is minimal, hiding a powerful mechanism under its exterior. The bridges on the wristwatch are made from rhodium-plated brass and finished with classic Geneva stripes. The white enamel dial is simple, and the “Philippe Dufour” signature basks in the limelight. Black ink Roman numerals and blue steel hands decorate the watch face. The watch measures 39mm by 14mm. In classic Philippe Dufour fashion, the finishing is done entirely by hand, using traditional tools and techniques.
This is not the first time a Philippe Dufour has fetched an exorbitant price; The watchmaker’s Simplicity 20th Anniversary sold for for $1.51 million in October 2020.