Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, technology was developed which made the watch possible. The earliest portable timepieces were heavy 'clock-watches' which were attached to clothing or worn as a necklace, only displaying an hour-hand; the earliest known watch - Melanchthon's Watch - was crafted from copper plated with gold. By the 17th century, the pocket watch design was introduced, as well as a glass face to protect the mechanics. The introduction of the pocket watch was accompanied by a trend amongst the wealthy for solid gold timepieces. The most popular style of watch today - the wristwatch - has various rumours surrounding its origins in the 19th century; however, the wristwatch did not find commercial success until after the war. Gold wristwatches soon became a popular choice for smart and formal dress, with cases often being made in 14k or 18k gold. The first 24k solid gold-cased watch was the Bulova Accu-Swiss Percheron, released in 2014 and sold for around $42,000 at the time of release.
Although we live in a highly digitised, smart-phone driven world, the classic pocket watch appears to be making a comeback. Whilst there are new models coming out on the market, the consensus seems to be that older, antique pocket watches carry more allure. In this sense, pocket watches have become as much of a fashion statement and conversation piece as they are a practical way to tell time.
Or, why Christie’s and Phillips are both bringing examples of the same watch to auction with two very different estimates.