Time is money for watch collectors as unique pieces from the collection of U.S. car manufacturer James Ward Packard (1863-1928) head for the auction block at Christie’s International next month.
Kept for 60 years in a bank vault, the four timepieces have a presale estimate of $454,000 to $906,000. The group will star in Christie’s Important Watches sale on June 15, expected to tally as much as $8.5 million.
A founder of Packard Motor Car Co. in 1902, Packard was “the godfather of watch collectors,” said Sam Hines, head of watches for Christie’s Americas and Asia. He “had watches customized for him by the brands.”
A 20-karat-gold Vacheron Constantin has Packard’s signature Art Nouveau monogram in blue enamel and a presale estimate of $250,000 to $500,000. Made in 1919. it strikes every hour and every quarter.
Handwritten operating instruction that accompany the watch might have been written by Packard, Hines said.
The second highlight of the group is a previously unrecorded 18-karat gold minute-repeater that Packard commissioned from Patek Philippe in 1918. Its estimate is $200,000 to $400,000. One of 17 watches the Swiss firm made specifically for Packard, this minute-repeater has a power reserve and an unusual Murat-style case.
The remaining pieces are two 19th-century pocket watches that belonged to Packard’s father, Warren Packard, and were made by American Watch Co.
The Patek Philippe comes with an original box, original certificate, a spare crystal and two spare main springs, Hines said. All four pieces are being sold by Packard’s descendants.
“The watches have all the attributes the market is looking for today,” Hines said, listing the brand, complications, condition, provenance and completeness.
“When the watch carries all of those, there’re a lot of potential collectors who might want them,” he said.