Moran’s to auction single-owner timepiece collection Dec. 11

Robert & Courvoisier doctor’s pocket watch, circa 1795-1805. Estimate: $1,500-$2,500. Moran’s image

MONROVIA, Calif. – Moran’s Rare & Important Timepieces from a Private Collection auction on Tuesday, Dec. 11, features an array of interesting and unusual pocket watches and wristwatches. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The 126-lot auction catalog serves as a survey of timepieces dating from the turn of the 19th century through to the contemporary. Watches include hand-crafted timepieces, some of the earliest machine-made examples by American and European makers, and luxury wristwatches by makers such as Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, A Lange & Söhne and Patek Philippe. It has been many years since a single-consignor collection of this caliber has come to auction.

One of the oldest examples featured in the catalog is a doctor’s pocket watch by Swiss maker Robert & Courvoisier, dating to sometime between 1795-1805. Featuring a striped dial with two time-only dials (one with Arabic numerals, the other with Roman numerals), a sub-seconds dial, and a date dial, the handmade piece will head to the block with a $1,500-$2,500 estimate (above).

Two pocket watches with ties to the California gold rush are offered. The first to head to the block dates to approximately 1850, shortly after the maker’s arrival in San Francisco. J.W. Tucker’s pocket watch features handmade works and a gorgeous, heavy gold chain link fob set with gold-in-quartz stones (estimate: $3,000-$4,000). Assigned a $3,000 to $5,000 estimate, a 1910 E. Howard & Co. pocket watch featuring a gold nugget-adorned case and chain with nugget links will likewise appeal to those collectors with an interest in gold rush history (below).

E. Howard & Co. gold nugget pocket watch, circa 1910. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Moran’s image

A number of pocket watches by Waltham Watch Co., one of America’s earliest watch-making companies, are featured in the catalog. Dating to 1880 or so, an attractive double-face chronograph by the maker will head to the block with a $3,000 to $5,000 estimate. The piece features a time-only dial in the front, and a partially skeletonized chronograph verso. Another example with an unusual calendar dial by same maker dating to 1878 is expected to bring between $3,000 and $5,000. The dial features radiating columns of days of the month and a central adjustable rotating dial with days of the week.

Railroad Grade watches from an array of American makers make up a large swath of the lots on offer, many marked for Ball Watch Co. After a railway disaster in 1891 killed eight people due to an engineer’s slow watch, jeweler Webster C. Ball was chosen to be chief inspector of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway, developing a series of 12 requirements for all timepieces used by railway employees. The produced “Railroad Grade” watches were not only made for those in the railway industry; buyers of all kinds purchased “Official RR Standard” watches, and production on Railroad Grade watches was quickly started by a number of American watchmakers. A Howard for Ball & Co. Brother of Locomotive Engineers pocket watch dating to 1894 (not long after the adoption of Ball’s railroad watch standards), will head to the block with a $2,000-$4,000 estimate. A Waltham Vanguard Railroad Grade pocket watch with an exceptional multicolor gold case is expected to bring between $1,500 and $2,500. An American Waltham Watch Co. Dominion Railways pocket watch dating to 1888 features a hand-painted porcelain dial depicting a Dominion locomotive and tender is an exceptional find. The Dominion Railways watch has been assigned a conservative $1,000-$1,500 estimate.

Like the Dominion Railways piece, a number of watches in the catalog feature exceptional dials. An American Waltham Watch Co. pocket watch featuring a massive 14K gold case and a dial painted with elaborate yellow and pink strapwork is expected to earn between $1,000 and $2,000. A Swiss perpetual calendar quarter repeater watch (below) with four subdials (for four-year months, day, date and sub-seconds) as well as a moon phase aperture is a wonderful work of horological art, and is estimated to earn between $8,000 and $12,000.

Swiss perpetual calendar quarter repeater pocket watch, circa 1900. Estimate: $8000-$12,000. Moran’s image

Examples of pocket watches and wristwatches by important European makers spanning production periods throughout the 20th and 21st centuries are sure to excite serious collectors. A Patek Philippe Gondolo 24-hour pocket watch in rose gold proves an excellent early 20th-century example by the maker.

Patek Philippe Gondolo 18K gold 24-hour pocket watch. Estimate: $30,000-$40,000. Moran’s image

Specially made for Rio de Janiero-based firm Gondolo & Laboriau, the high-quality Chronometro Gondolo is based on Adrien Philippe’s patented design dating to 1891 (estimate: $30,000-$40,000). A later example by Patek Philippe & Co. is expected to earn between $60,000 and $90,000. The self-winding perpetual date wristwatch features a sleek 18K gold case with a date calendar and moon phase window. A contemporary platinum A. Lange & Söhne Langematik “Sax-O-Mat” wristwatch (below) is sure to excite collectors. Featuring a cool matte silver dial with 24-hour, months, sub-seconds and moon-phase indicators, the watch carries a $20,000 to $30,000 estimate.

A. Lange & Söhne platinum automatic wristwatch. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Moran’s image

An Audemars Piguet skeletonized wristwatch with integrated woven 18K gold bracelet is a wonderful buy for a collector for who appreciates studying the interior workings of their timepiece (estimate: $10,000-$15,000).

Full-color catalogs are available now. Contact Moran’s directly to order a copy, either via email: info@johnmoran.com or phone 626-793-1833.

Moran’s will host five auctions across two days in December. On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Moran’s will kick the day off with the Rare & Important Timepieces from a Private Collection auction at 10 a.m. Pacific time/1 p.m. Eastern. At 12:30 p.m. Pacific, a Fine Jewelry auction will commence, followed by a Studio Jewelry session at 3 p.m. Pacific. On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Moran’s Luxury Accessories auction will begin at noon Pacific time, followed by Art of the American West at 2 p.m.