Breguet Watch with Fob, ca. 1805

Value (2005) | $30,000 Auction$35,000 Auction

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.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Wow.

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."

GUEST:
Cool.

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.

GUEST:
Neat.

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:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Okay?

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.

GUEST:
Awesome.

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.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Doyle New York
New York, NY
Appraised value (2005)
$30,000 Auction$35,000 Auction
Event
Providence, RI (June 18, 2005)
Period
19th Century

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.