Swiss Watch, ca. 1860
I found it in my father's stuff when he died, and I believe that it was my grandmother's, but it might have even been her mother's-- I'm not sure.
Well, it probably was your grandmother's mother's. This is a Swiss watch, and the reason I think it's interesting is because it's a Swiss watch from before the days people thought of Swiss watches as being precision. And long before the Swiss made watches, they were famous as jewelers. And Geneva, where this watch was made, had a very unusual location that allowed it to be a trading center as far back as the 17th century. And what makes this watch particularly interesting and why we wanted to show it today is the beautiful enamel work and the diamonds that are set on the back of the watch. The Swiss were very, very good enamelers and makers of fine gold jewelry. The thing we can't show on TV is the fact that when you pick this up, it's a fairly heavy, 18-karat-gold case. Now, by the middle of the 17th century, the Swiss were making watches for everybody in the world. They were set up in Constantinople, they had agents in the 18th century in the United States. And like many things which are very technical and that people don't really understand, it's the packaging that makes a watch attractive to people. And what you see here is a typical mid-19th-century decorative watch, and it has all the decorative detail that you would expect to see on a piece of Victorian jewelry. It has very nice scrollwork on it, it has a bouquet of flowers. The diamonds on it are rose-cut diamonds, which you see on a lot of Victorian jewelry. They were trying to imitate the work of the 18th century. If we were to open the watch up, you'd see the maker's signature on it, you'd see the watch winds with a key. And in fact, if you were to open it up further, you would see that the watch still is ticking and that the watchmaker's name is on the inside on the movement. All of these things say it was a very good watch, and a watch that today, if I were selling it, I would ask somewhere between $3,500 and $4,500 for it.
Wow. (laughs) Wow, that's great. I had no idea.
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.