Pocket Watch & Chatelaine, ca. 1790
This watch sat in a safe in my grandmother's antique shop for I don't know how many years. As kids, we used to go to the shop and ask her husband Ernie, who was the watchmaker, repairer, tinkerer, he had a little workshop in the back, and every time he went in, that's the thing I wanted to see. He would take it out of the safe, he showed it to us, and would show us... "Look at the pearls." And he said that the back of it had snakeskin, so we always called it the snakeskin watch. We'd say, "Show us the snakeskin watch."
It's an early watch. Do you know when it was made?
I have no idea.
As early as maybe 1780.
Oh, my God.
As late as perhaps 1820, in that range. This is a men's dress pocket watch, only used for the very nicest occasions. And it has the matching chatelaine with it. This is the chatelaine. It would fasten on to the waistband of the owner, and then the watch, as you can see, is attached with a little clip.
The part that you call snakeskin, actually, that's pretty close, but what it is is a material called shagreen, which is actually shark skin. It's like a leather, and they covered the back with it and then they stained it. The little gold rivets that you see on the back hold the shagreen on, and they're called piqué. That's the outer case, and this is the inner case, and it's got seed pearls around the bezel, which is surrounding the dial. And then on the back, it has a medallion of enamel, which is called guilloché. What they did was they engraved on the gold a kind of a wiggling pattern and then covered it with the enamel. It opens like this. Then it comes forward by swinging out in this manner here. And that's the watch itself, which was very well made, and it's signed as well. It's very unusual to find a watch in such good condition that has its matching chatelaine, and we know it matches because it's the same color enamel as you see on the back of the watch. Quite often, the watch has become separated from the chatelaine and they're different. Do you have any idea what it's worth?
Because he kept it, you know, in the safe and never brought it out and made it seem like it was so valuable, I don't know, I'd throw out a guess of maybe $10,000.
Well, that's a good guess. First of all, the value I think is greatly increased because of the fact that it has the matching chatelaine, and along that line, I want to say that I think the value of this watch, along with this chatelaine, is about $7,500. But on a good day, because of its condition and things, it could bring a price a little higher.
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