George Reynolds Pocket Watch, ca. 1865

Value (2011) | $2,500 Auction

My wife bought a file cabinet at a thrift shop here in El Paso about ten or 11 years ago, and the cabinet happened to be locked when we got it, so we took it home and got a locksmith to open it, and I was digging around in it, trying to see what was in it and make sure all the slides and stuff worked, and I heard a clunk and looked back at the slides in one of the drawers and there was the watch.

It's made around 1860, 1870. It's 18-karat gold. And you can see this incredibly detailed dial, which is one of the characteristics, this multicolored gold dial. The case, as well, is very highly decorated, to the edges, to the band here. It was made most likely for the South American market. Despite that, all the ones that I've seen have all been made, or certainly signed by, English makers. This particular one is signed by George Reynolds from Liverpool. Although they use English movements, the cases, et cetera, are European, most likely Swiss. Then you have this gorgeous engine turn reverse. This particular design we do see turning up from time to time. The condition of this one is significantly nicer than many others. Because it's 18-karat gold, the engine turning on the reverse will wear, et cetera, and they will get dented. Now, you can open up the reverse. It has a hole in the back. This is to wind the watch. Now, the way this watch was made, and particularly around this type of 1860 period, rather than the reverse entering straight into the movement, it actually comes through the front. So the front hinges up in this way, and this is how you set the hands. You'd have a small key, which fits into the central arbor here, and you'd change the hands directly. These hands are also quite wonderful. They're called serpent hands. I don't know if you noticed how they have this...

I've never seen watch hands like that before.

Quite unusual, I have to say, but normally on this model there would be this type of serpent hands. And then I'm just going to unclip it from here... Now here we have the dust cover on the inside. This is the dust cover, which protects the movement, as the name suggests, from dust. Here we have the movement, signed "George Reynolds" to the underside, and at the top, "Liverpool." Again, very classic of this type, but we do see these coming up from time to time. They have started again in popularity because of the decoration behind it. Can you remind me how much you paid for the filing cabinet?

As I recall, my wife paid about $20 for the cabinet.

Okay, I think at auction, a watch like this is going to sell for about $2,500.

Oh, that's nice. That's nice.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2011)
$2,500 Auction
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
19th Century

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