If the physical auction business needs a shot in the arm after three months’ of ruinous un-targeted lock downs, a king’s pocket watch dating back to the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) could be just the tonic.
That is the enticing prospect for people attending a Sotheby’s sale in London next month where a Breguet tourbillon pocket watch owned by King George III of England is expected to sell for up to £1 million.
Sotheby’s is describing the gold pocket watch as one of the most important watches by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the man credited with making some of the earliest accurate portable timekeepers.
The auctioneer says the watch is likely to have been among the first with a tourbillon ever sold by Breguet and represented cutting-edge technology in the early 19th century.
“Abraham Louis-Breguet watches were the Theory of Everything in the early 19th century, incorporating all the scientific discoveries of the past centuries, the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the great vision of a man who revolutionised watchmaking and placed time and precision at the core of modern society,” says Daryn Schnipper, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s Watch Division.
“When you hold the watch he made for George III, you instantly know you are in the presence of something truly exceptional. This watch not only captures Breguet’s genius – the ability to conceal layers of complexity behind apparent simplicity – it also encapsulates why historic timepieces are so relevant today. They transcend the function of mere timekeeping to tell us the history of the modern world. This notion was the driving force for the connoisseur who owned this watch: he painstakingly assembled one of the finest collections of horological treasures, whimsical automata, objects of vertu and unpublished letters by the great visionaries of modern history.”
The live auction takes place on July 14, and will be accepting online bids for the pocket watch, which has a pre-sale estimate of £700,000 to £1 million.