Alongside jewellery, 1818 Auctioneers sell watches at auction and Jackie Rothwell is our specialist valuer. Her section features timepieces by the world’s leading names in watchmaking from Patek Philippe, who designed and created the first wristwatches to recent luxury brands like Montblanc.
Amongst the many watchmakers and their companies, it is quality that stands the test of time, so expect names like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Tudor, Rolex, Breitling and Tag Heuer to do well at auction. It also helps if they are endorsed by celebrities or sportspeople. A rare Rolex watch, once owned by the late movie star Paul Newman, became the most expensive watch ever auctioned when it made £13.5million in 2017.
In recent years there has been very strong growth in the vintage wristwatch market, with prices achieved for the marquee brands such as Rolex, Cartier, Omega and Patek Phillipe doubling and tripling in many instances. In our saleroom, we’ve seen two Rolex oyster precision wristwatches from the 1940s and 1960s make £1,200 and £1,000 respectively. And with pocket watches, there is good demand for early 17th and 18th-century pieces as well as quality 20th-century examples by recognised makers.
As for design, ladies and gents, there's a huge variety thanks to the strap, the shape and size of the face. They are also inspired by period and endeavour, from military to sporting and exploration - newer luxury brands, including Hublot, Bremont and Bell & Ross, often go back in time to find inspiration for contemporary pieces.
From wrist to pocket, the latter from the Georgian to Victorian periods, watches can be made in gold, silver, plate and metal. All a far cry from the smartwatches of today.
The internet has been a great place for passionate watch collectors and has helped lead a resurgence in watch values. Perhaps a timely visit to see Jackie, or buy at auction, could see you 'clock' an investment.