The mechanical watch is no-longer used for accurate time-keeping, a task better suited to the predicable vibrations of crystals or the decay of atoms. Time displays are ubiquitous: mobile phones and tablets, computer screens, motor-car dashboards, domestic appliances, the list is long and ever changing. Objects that come to be collectable are typically those whose necessity has been overtaken by technology.
Collecting wristwatches might be seen as an antidote to or an escape from the clinical, machine-made, impersonal and universal nature of electronic time-keeping. In a world of super-accurate or radio-controlled time, “synchronise watches” becomes meaningless: the time on everyone’s wrist is already the same. But this explanation will not do. Commercial electric clocks have been in existence since the advent of reliable mains electricity in the late 19th century. First generation coil, transistorised, tuning fork and LED watches are now sought after by collectors. Other reasons must be in play.
Most of the wristwatches produced in the last 100 years are not collectable. Some of the characteristics that elevate a few examples to a fine art auction catalogue are: the name of the maker, the quality of manufacture, the originality of design and function, the value of the materials. Prospective vendors are welcome to submit their watches for an up-to-date assessment and for inclusion in one of our regular auctions.
Sign up for our Jewellery, Watches & Silver newsletter below:
We offer a free valuation service to people who are considering the sale of their items through our auction room. Click the button to complete our short form, and one of our experts will be in touch.