An Obsession with Time in The Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World’s Most Legendary Watch

A Grand ComplicationJames Ward Packard was one of the men behind the luxurious Packard Automobile Company and was an inventor who made millions, though he had one underlying passion- watches. Pocket watches were marvels of invention that could go beyond telling time and have additional functions called complications like sunrise times and celestial movements. Packard contracted with Patek Philippe, a premier watch maker, to design watches referred to as grande complications because of their multiple complications.

Meanwhile, Henry Graves, Jr., who was from a wealthy New York family whose family member had made much of their money through banking and investment, had developed an interest in watches. He also contracted with Patek Philippe requesting and designing grande complications. Neither men had ever met the other, but both were in a silent competition to have the Supercomplication, the watch with the most complications.

Obsession and money fueled their arms race that began in the early twentieth century and lasted decades through both war and peace, as well as personal triumphs and tragedies. The Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World’s Most Legendary Watch by Stacy Perman is the story of the two men whose desire to possess the Supercomplication produced a watch that sold in 1999 for $11 million dollars making it the most expensive watch.


Christina Callison has been blogging about books for the library’s website since 2006. She has read hundreds of books that include mysteries, fantasies, horror, thrillers, non-fiction, general fiction, and some science fiction. She continues with her goal of finding new books and authors to recommend.