Appraisal Video: (3:42)
Clocks & Watches, Jewelry
Doyle New York
GUEST: My great-aunt died in the late '80s, and I inherited a desktop mirror. And when I got it home, I opened the drawer up, and there was this watch in a pouch in the drawer. So I was the lucky beneficiary of it from my great-aunt.
APPRAISER: Fantastic. Now, have you done any research on it?
GUEST: The only research that I did was when I had it stolen from me in Cambridge when we lived there 20 years ago now, and I had to go and look through the pawned items from the police department, and I noticed that it had lists and lists of items, and one was "Watch With Fob." So I found out that the fob is a sealing wax item, I think, and, uh...
APPRAISER: Right, you have a cornelian fob over here.
GUEST: I wasn't aware of a fob, but I found that out. And I know that it's got a date from the 18th century, and I am not sure how it came into my family. So I was trying to find anything I can out about the watch.
APPRAISER: Okay, first of all, this watch was made by a gentleman called Abraham-Louis Breguet, probably the most famous, most important watchmaker of our times.
APPRAISER: It's just top shelf. He invented a lot of mechanisms that, to this day, are in use in watches, some of them as sophisticated as a tourbillon or a parachute escapement, or a perpetual calendar. But certainly, the most celebrated watchmaker--
GUEST: I had no idea.
APPRAISER: --in the past 250-plus years. Another thing. So many people, even back then, were faking his watches-- or, if you will, in today's jargon, knocking them off-- that he came up with what they call the secret signature.
GUEST: Oh. No way.
APPRAISER: Now, if you look very, very carefully, just under the 12, it's kind of a frosted, off-white on top of the white enamel dial, and it'll say "Breguet."
APPRAISER: And it'll give the number of the watch.
GUEST: Oh, wow, that's awesome.
APPRAISER: Another interesting thing that he came up with is these hands. These are what we call palm hands. He made these famous. You'll see them on many, many watches.
APPRAISER: Now, you said you had an idea how old it was.
GUEST: There was a date on the inside of 1765.
APPRAISER: It's not the date, it's the number of the watch. Number 1,765.
GUEST: How interesting.
APPRAISER: We looked up the numbers, and it is, in fact, from 1800 to about 1805, and we have the ruby cylinder escapement. So simple, so plain, but again, so beautiful. This is our tenth season doing ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, and... this is the first one that I've personally ever seen.
APPRAISER: So we have a watch that would bring, at auction... I would say somewhere in the neighborhood-- here we go-- $30,000 to $35,000.
GUEST: No kidding. Oh, my gosh. I thought it would be about $1,000. Oh, my gosh. You're kidding me! That's fantastic.
APPRAISER: This fob alone is probably worth about $1,000.
GUEST: Wow, wow.
APPRAISER: So, a little added bonus.
GUEST: That was the clue for me when I got it back. That's the only way I would have identified it.
APPRAISER: Great story, happy ending.
GUEST: Excellent. Thank you so much. Thank you.