One of the most complicated and precise timekeeping devices ever built looks straight out of a James Bond film, and it’s going to auction for seven figures.
The Urwerk AMC (for Atomic Master Control) is a hybrid system, made up of two “autonomous, but linked” parts, according to Urwerk.
The first is the nearly 70-pound aluminum case “base unit” — that looks like something agent 007 might need to disarm a bomb — which is a state of the art atomic clock. An atomic clock keeps the most accurate time on the planet essentially by measuring the high-speed vibrations of atoms.
The other part, considered the mobile unit, is a mechanical wristwatch, which can be docked in the base unit to correct any discrepancies in the time-keeping, as well as “compensating for any minute changes in temperature, air pressure or humidity,” according to Urwerk.
The Urwerk AMC “keeps accuracy to one second every 317 years,” Paul Boutros head of watches for Phillips auction house tells CNBC.
This hybrid device is one of the top lots in Phillips’ upcoming watch sale called “Game Changers.”
The clock and wristwatch combo took nearly a decade to develop and only three Urwerk AMC sets will ever be made, each priced at $2.7 million at retail.
The one at auction is being sold by an owner who wishes to remain anonymous, and it’s the first to make it’s way to the secondary market. Boutros tells CNBC the estimate will begin much lower than the original sale price, at $1 million to $2 million.
Boutros explains there’s a strategy to the auction estimate being set: “We’re giving clients the opportunity to get something at a good price, estimating conservatively to build interest in the piece.” He ultimately hopes that increased interest will lead to a higher hammer price.
So who would be interested in dropping seven figures on such an extreme timekeeping machine? “The Urwerk AMC will really appeal to people who appreciate craftsmanship, precision and art,” Boutros says.
The Phillips “Game Changers” auction will be held in New York City on Dec. 10.
Erica Wright is a producer for CNBC’s special projects unit.