The world's most complicated timepiece, which took nine years to make, was sold at auction after 78 seconds of bidding to a private collector from South America for a world record price of $2.74 million.

The anonymous buyer outbid four other people Sunday for the mechanical, 18-carat gold watch which packs 1,728 parts, including 68 springs and 168 jewels. His actual outlay, including taxes and 10 percent commission, is $3.17 million.The highest price for a timepiece at auction had been $1.2 million in 1984 for a clock from the mid-17th century.

"Kuma," as it will be futurely named after the Japanese goddess and at the request of the buyer, was the top lot among 291 watches that fetched a total of $15.2 million Sunday in the biggest watch sale ever.

Completed early this year by Patek Philippe, the world's oldest family-owned watchmaker, to mark the company's 150th anniversary, it has various unique features.

The makers' pride is a "perpetual secular calendar" in which one wheel takes a century to complete a single revolution and a lever moves once every 400 years so that it will not skip a leap year date.

That takes into account that under the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582, the Feb. 29 date is dropped at the turn of most centuries except on century years exactly divisible by 400, like the year 2000 and 2400.

It also is the first watch in the world that determines the date of Easter, a movable feast, on the previous New Year's Eve. And it features a disc of sapphire crystal showing the Milky Way and 2,800 distinct stars in five sizes.

It needs rewinding at least every 30 hours and its accuracy, within one minute a month, does not match a cheap quartz watch.