Large Longine Aviator’s Watch, ca. 1938

Value (2009) | $12,000 Retail

GUEST:
My father is a retired doctor, had many years of practice in Manhattan and has had a great love for watches and clocks for all his life. He used to occasionally go to a pawnshop to see what was available and he picked this up at a pawnshop on Third Avenue.

APPRAISER:
Do you know when he bought this watch?

GUEST:
My best guess is about 30 years ago. I think it's an aviator watch. This watch was designed by Charles Lindbergh after he flew across the Atlantic, and he worked with Longines to make an aviator's watch.

APPRAISER:
Do you understand why it's large like this?

GUEST:
Because of dim lights in the cockpit?

APPRAISER:
Well, in the 1930s, when this watch was made and used, there was no pressurization to planes. So you would wear them on the outside of a jacket. It was cold. There was no pressurized plane, so it was very, very freezing cold in these planes. So they would wear layers of clothes. They might wear a jacket under a sweater and vest. Most of the time these came with big straps. They would put it here or over here so you could look at it as you were flying. They did make a few different versions of this watch. This is probably the most valuable version. It's the largest version they made. It's made strictly for flight. There was other smaller versions that came out. They made this watch from mid-'30s till probably around the war years in the '40s. Do you have any idea what he paid for it?

GUEST:
Actually, I do. He paid no more than $100. A hundred dollars, 30 years ago.

APPRAISER:
30 years ago. Okay. A watch like this on the retail market today probably would run around $12,000. It's a pretty rare watch.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
There aren't many of them around. This is one of the first ones I've seen in the last five or ten years. It's really a great pleasure to have this great watch here.

GUEST:
Thank you. My father's going to be pleased.

APPRAISER:
When I started in business, everything was the size of a quarter, and now it's come full circle. Big watches are really, really in.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Craig Evan Small Estate Jewelry
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2009)
$12,000 Retail
Event
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Form
Watch
Material
Glass, Metal

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