18K Gold Pocket Watch, ca. 1885

Value (2010) | $25,000 Retail$30,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
It's been in my family for generations. It was supposedly made by my great-great-great-grandfather. It was handed down to my grandfather and then to my father and to me. Supposedly it was made with Jules Jurgensen. I think he was a jeweler from Massachusetts. The watch was on display in Massachusetts for a long time. Other than that, I have very little history about it other than what's in the letter.

APPRAISER:
So the letter was written, you believe, somewhere in the 1940s?

GUEST:
Late 1940s.

APPRAISER:
And the signature at the bottom is your grandfather's signature.

GUEST:
That would be my grandfather's signature.

APPRAISER:
It talks about the watch. The watch is a masterpiece of horology.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
It's a perpetual calendar. It knows how many days are in each month, and on the fourth year, one gear ends up knowing that it has 29 days in February.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
It also is a minute repeater, which means it chimes in a succession to the nearest minute.

GUEST:
Wow. (chiming)

APPRAISER:
It would ring hour bells, then quarter-hour bells, and then minute bells. Okay. It also shows the phase of the moon. It also has another function, which is a chronometer that you can time something with. The case is made out of 18-karat gold. It's a hunting case. When you open the watch up in the back, there's an exhibition cover which then shows the entire movement. There's an issue I have with the letter. The letter says that the watch was 140 years old when the letter was written. The watch, though, was probably produced between 1880 to 1890. So if it was written in the '40s, then the watch was about 60 years old. When we see something where one thing is off, then we have to wonder, are there other things that are off? So it says in the letter that your great-grandfather, I guess, was a watchmaker working with Jules Jurgensen. Now, Jules Jurgensen was a preeminent watchmaker in Copenhagen. He worked from in the 1850s to the 1890s. The firm stayed around for years. They were noted for very, very fine watches, also, like this, very, very heavy 18-karat gold. The watch has the feel of what a Jurgensen could be.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The price of the watch as is, with having a disparity in the date on the letter and as if it was not made by Jules Jurgensen, the value on the retail market would be in the $25,000 to $30,000 price range.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Now, underneath the dial and on some of the plates of the movement, a lot of times there are secret signatures. It probably would be worth spending a little money and having an expert watchmaker disassemble the watch to see if there is anything underneath the dials.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
If there happens to be the "J.J." mark of Jules Jurgensen, that could double the price of the watch.

GUEST:
Okay.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Radcliffe Jewelers
Towson, MD
Appraised value (2010)
$25,000 Retail$30,000 Retail
Event
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)
Period
19th Century
Material
Gold

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