Unique 18th century pocket watches bring record sums at Sotheby's



2016-07-12 12:25:06

A pair of 18th century pocket watches made record sums at Sotheby's this week, during a sale of rare timepieces from one of the world's greatest collections.

The auction in London was the second in a series entitled "Celebration of the English Watch", featuring the most important collection of English watches in private hands.

Christie's had described the collection as being "inspired by passion and curiosity... the culmination of years of searching for the best examples in wondrous condition with superb provenance".

The first instalment of the sale in December 2015 realized a total of more than £3 million, led by an early 17th century royal oval astronomical watch made by David Ramsay, which sold for £989,000 ($1,498,632), a new record price for a renaissance watch at auction.

The second instalment achieved a total of £1.84 million, led by a historic silver pocket chronometer made circa 1781 by John Arnold, regarded as the first person to design a watch that was both practical and accurate.

The chronometer was presented in completely original condition, having survived more than two centuries without restoration and with its original case, dial, pivoted detent and ‘double S’ balance.

Offered with an estimate of £130,000 - £150,000, the watch fetched a final price of £557,000 ($722,318), a new record price for a timepiece by Arnold.

(Images: Sotheby

(Images: Sotheby's)

The second record-breaking watch of the sale was a gold pair cased pocket chronometer made in 1784 by Thomas Earnshaw, inventor the spring detent escapement, and Thomas Wright, watchmaker to King George III.

As the only surviving example of a watch made strictly to Wright’s patent details, the unique timepiece exceeded its estimate to sell for £305,000 ($395,524).

Further top-selling lots included a gold consular cased early lever watch by Josiah Emery, circa 1785, which sold for £125,000 ($162,100); a large gilt-metal paste-set and stone Necessaire with a watch, made for the Chinese market circa 1770 by James Cox, which sold for £95,000 ($123,196); and an important gold and gilt metal minute repeating pair cased cylinder watch, made by Thomas Mudge circa 1766, which sold for £68,750 ($89,155).

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