Anyone that knows a thing or two about pocket watches knows that these small, compact, and often intricately decorated timepieces can go for thousands at auction and can end up costing buyers far more than they may have been worth when they were created. Just such a watch was sold earlier this month at a Sotheby’s auction. The watch was purchased not by a private collector as some might assume, but rather, by the Breguet Museum. This stunning gold pocket watch that tells time, moon phase, and date based on chronometer principles was originally owned by Lord Henry Seymour.
The watch that fetched $1.2 million at auction today was bought in 1831 for $7700, a far cry from its estimated $1 million dollar value today. The watch was then given to the brother of Lord Henry Seymour, Richard Seymour Conway 4th Marquis of Hertford. The watch was then handed down to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace. The watch was then auctioned off as part of his estate. This owner of the infamous ‘Wallace Collection’ was the last owner until he died in 1890.
This beautifully understated time piece is at once stunning and practical. Though one would assume a watch of this value would be encrusted with diamonds and other precious metals, the watch is simply designed and belies an elegance that shines through despite its simplistic design. 2013 marks the 190th anniversary of the death of Breguet, the famous watchmaker for which the museum was named. The watch itself was made by Breguet and is a testament to the powers of truly skilled watchmakers. This watch is of the finest quality and is a fantastic example of what the famous watch maker was capable of producing.
Watches today pale in comparison to the antique watches of yesteryear and though beautiful and flashy, are nowhere near as fantastically made as the fine watches that belonged to the well off and the gentry of the past. Other watches that are housed in the museum reflect the versatility of Breguet as a watch maker and illustrate his talent overall as a skilled craftsman. Though Breguet is no longer with us to create these brilliant pieces, his legacy will live on through the beautiful pieces that are left behind. CEO of Breguet Museum Mark Hayek gushed about the brilliant timepiece after its purchase.
The piece will become part of the permanent display of pocket watches and other fabulous timepieces created by the watchmaker in the museum. Though some might see the purchase of a watch for $1.2 million as somewhat insane, the watch is a testament to a time passed and is well worth the money spent. The watch not only tells the story of Breguet but also the story of the men that owned it. This piece is rich with history and has a past all its own. Though most individuals do not have the resources to purchase a watch of this grand scale, these pieces are all on show in the museum. To date, Sotheby’s is one of the largest sellers of antique watches in the United States.