Collection of antique pocket watches expected to make £30,000 to be auctioned in Scarborough

An astonishing collection of antique pocket watches is expected to attract national and international attention when it goes under the hammer in Scarborough next week.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 9:58 am
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 10:02 am

The treasure trove was amassed by a Scottish Borders vet who developed a passion for historic watches after inheriting his father’s prized timepiece.

One thing led to another and the result was a collection that eventually extended to over 250 pocket watches, displaying a spectacular range of the watchmaker’s art in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, and covering the work of craftsmen all over Britain and also Switzerland, France and the United States.

The finest 142 pieces from the collection make up the entire catalogue for The Pocket Watch Sale that auctioneer David Duggleby is staging at the Vine Street Salerooms in Scarborough on Friday April 9, a highly unusual one-owner auction.

Watch specialist Charlie Ward examines the remarkable Beverley timepiece. Picture: Newman Walker Associates

Duggleby clocks and watches specialist Charlie Ward said: “There are so many highlights that its difficult to pick the most impressive but it does include a number of gold and silver watches that we know will attract the interest of collectors all over the world.

“One of the highest pre-sale estimates is attached to a George III 18 carat gold pair cased watch made by John Bolton of Durham in 1819.

"Not only is it a beautiful watch but it’s also a rarity. We don’t often see the work of John Bolton, who worked in Chester-le-Street in the years 1790-1815 before moving to New Elvet where he was based until his death in 1821. That watch is expected to go for £1,800-£2,000.”

Noteworthy lots by London makers include a silver pair cased pocket watch made by Jonathan Garrett circa 1695; an 18th century silver watch with what’s known as a champlevé dial by John Berry and a silver calendar watch by the late 18th century maker John Bittleston. Each of them could make as much as a thousand pounds.

Fit for a Queen: The Hargreaves gold watch. Picture: Newman Walker Associates

Meanwhile an 18 carat gold full hunter keyless chronograph made in 1895 by J. Hargreaves & Co., the famous Liverpool firm, is expected to make £1,800 - £2,200.

Hargreaves were ‘Makers to the Queen and H.R.H. the Prince of Wales’ – an honour they emblazoned on the faces of their watches for years.

Charlie said: “Yorkshire collectors on the other hand may be just as interested in another lot, a silver pair cased pocket watch made in 1831 by the Beverley watchmaker, James Heselton of North Bar Street.

"It has a fine verge fusee movement, an attractively decorated ‘Speed the Plough’ face and, would you believe it, when we wound it up the 190-year-old watch just started ticking. That’s William IV Yorkshire craftsmanship for you!”

William IV East Yorkshire craftsmanship. Still ticking after 190 years. Picture: Newman Walker Associates

She added: “We are expect the auction to make at least £30,000-£40,000. I’ve never seen a collection that matches its size and range and frankly I would be very surprised to come across anything quite so special again.”

The fully illustrated catalogue is available at www.davidduggleby.com.

The auction is live online only, via DD Live and thesaleroom.com, with pre-auction bids being accepted now.

The star of the show, the gold pocket watch made by John Bolton of Durham in 1819. Picture: Newman Walker Associates