Among watch collectors of the early 20th century, two men stand head and shoulders above all others: James Ward Packard and Henry Graves, Jr. Both men were prolific patrons of horology, custom purchasing only the best and most complicated pocketwatches from Switzerland. The collections of these two Americans connoisseurs remain legendary even today.
As John Reardon writes in his seminal history Patek Philippe in America,
“The wealthiest collectors often accumulated watches and kept them out of the public eye. One such man was James Ward Packard (1864-1928), automotive mogul and founder of Packard Motor Company. During his lifetime, he acquired approximately 14 Patek Phillipe timepieces, most of which were custom made… His horological interest was sparked more by the mechanics of the watch than the aesthetics of the case. He sought to own timepieces with intricate and precises movements surpassing all others.”