Sotheby’s saw a piece of haute horlogerie history go under the gavel at their Important Watches auction in Geneva this week. The luxury auction house sold the Breguet pocket watch of the great collector Sir Richard Wallace to the Breguet Museum for US$1,112,945.
The pocket watch boasts a rich history. It was originally purchased from Breguet in Paris in 1831 by Lord Henry Seymour Conway, who bequeathed the watch to his brother, Richard Seymour Conway, 4th Marquis of Hertford. The timepiece was then given to Sir Richard Wallace, the Marquis’ illegitimate son, along with his father’s fortune and art collection. The timepiece was put up for auction by the descendants of Sir Richard Wallace, who reportedly wore the watch until his death in 1890.
The Breguet pocket watch boasts an exceptionally large number of complications for a watch of that time, including equation of time complication and power reserve indication, as well as calendar and moon phase based on chronometer principles. Only three watches of this period by Breguet are known to feature such a specific complication type and design. The extra slim gold guilloche case is numbered 4691 and boasts the Seymour family crest surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Garter surmounted by a Royal Crown.
The timepiece sold above early estimates, which had it pegged at just $650,000 -$1,000,000. The sale helped bring the 2013 total for Sotheby’s watch sales in Geneva to over $19.1 million.
Commenting on the results, Geoffroy Ader, Head of Sotheby’s Watch Department in Europe, said, “2013 marks the 190th anniversary of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s death. We are therefore extremely pleased that the Breguet Museum acquired this masterpiece of watchmaking, which not only celebrates the genius of Breguet, the father of modern watchmaking, but is also a testament to the eye of a great collector: Sir Richard Wallace. Today’s strong results and sale-through rates underline the depth of the international watch market and the ever-growing demand for timepieces of the highest quality and rarity.”