• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 2453

    Important Watches

    15 June 2011, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 97

    AMERICAN WATCH CO. A SILVER AND PINK GOLD HALF HUNTER CASE KEYLESS LEVER POCKET WATCH

    SIGNED AMERICAN WATCH CO., PARK ROAD, WALTHAM, MASS., MOVEMENT NO. 625724, CASE NO. 112, CIRCA 1870

    Price Realised  

    This lot is offered without a reserve

    AMERICAN WATCH CO. A SILVER AND PINK GOLD HALF HUNTER CASE KEYLESS LEVER POCKET WATCH
    SIGNED AMERICAN WATCH CO., PARK ROAD, WALTHAM, MASS., MOVEMENT NO. 625724, CASE NO. 112, CIRCA 1870
    Gilt-finished three-quarter plate lever movement, some jewels carried in screwed gold chatons, silver cuvette inscribed Wm. Packard FROM THE BOYS - Mar 1874, white enamel dial, Roman numerals, subsidiary seconds, silver case with coin-edged band and pink gold bezels, back lid with blue enamel scrolls, front lid with blue enamel Roman numerals for hours surrounding a central aperture, case, dial and movement signed
    53mm diam.


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    Waltham production functioned under the company name of the American Watch Co. from January of 1859 until 1885.

    The interior of this case contains two interesting pieces of ephemera: the image of a young boy (obviously one of "The Boys" from the inscription on the cuvette) and wiring tables from the Packard Electric Co. Ltd.

    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the collection of James Ward Packard

    Born on November 5th of 1863 in Warren, Ohio, James Ward Packard remains best known for the production of cars under his surname that were the finest luxury American vehicles of their day. His interest in mechanics though led not only to this and other creations but also to a deep and abiding love and appreciation of the finest of watchmaking efforts. To watch devotees Packard stands as an icon and Christie's is honored to present the following examples that helped to comprise a collection of legend.

    Packard graduated in 1884 from Lehigh University with a degree in mechanical engineering. In this same year he went to work at Sawyer-Man shops and during this year filed his first patent for the Packard Electric Lamp. Over his lifetime he would receive at least 43 United States patents, 13 of which related to lamps.

    In 1890 upon returning to his hometown of Warren, James Ward Packard opened the Packard Electric Company with his brother William Doud Packard. The company and their productions were extremely successful allowing both for the opening of a second branch of the firm in Canada in 1894 and also the lighting of Warren, Ohio as the first city in the United States to operate incandescent bulb street lamps. Over time the company did change hands and eventually became incorporated into General Electric.

    The two brothers' most famed collaboration would come with the founding of their automobile manufacturing company. In 1893 they formed Packard & Weiss under a partnership with George L. Weiss of the Winton Motor Carriage Company. The firm produced their first car, the "Ohio Model A" in 1899 after Packard studied the motor plans of Daimler and Benz and the body-building methods of Levasseur in the aims to produce the top of the line automobile that he would become known for. By the following year the company was incorporated as Ohio Automobile Company which officially became the Packard Motor Car Company in 1902.

    The firm moved in 1903 to Detroit and at this time James Ward and William Doud focused on automotive electrical systems in production at their Packard Electrical Company. This division was purchased by General Motors in 1932 and was renamed Delphi Packard Electric Systems in 1995, later becoming wholly independent in 1999.

    Up until World War II the Packard Motor Car Company remained renowned as one of the premier luxury car manufacturers in the world. During the war effort the Packard Company produced airplane engines under license from Rolls Royce. Unfortunately after the war Packard suffered, as did many other American car companies, as Ford and General Motors began a price war that ran many others out of business. The firm acquired the Studebaker Corporation in 1954 in an attempt to save the ailing company but the 3.5 million square foot Packard Plant was closed in 1956. The year 1958 saw the last automobile to be produced with a Packard nameplate.

    James Ward Packard retired as Chairman of the company much earlier in 1915. He died on March 20th of 1928 after a three-year illness. His legacy includes not only his massive contributions to the field of engineering, lighting and automotives but also a substantial gift of $1.2 million to his alma mater of Lehigh University which in turn created the Packard Laboratory.

    As relates to the field of horology, James Ward Packard stands as one of two American gentlemen, the other being Henry Graves, Jr., who supported, encouraged and demanded the production of the most exceptional and complicated of watches. Their "contest" to acquire the most complicated of timepiece led to the great patronage of Patek Philippe and also Vacheron Constantin. Henry Graves, Jr. ultimately received the most complicated of watches of the day from Patek Philippe but Packard was provided by the company with 17 watches including ones each with ten and sixteen complications. Upon his death the majority of his watch collection was given to the Horological Institute of America which later became the AWCI (American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute).

    The next four watches come to the market from the descendants of James Ward Packard. Their freshness to the market and unknown existence are indeed what fairytales are made from for everyone involved in the world of horology.

    The first two American Watch Company watches belong to James Ward Packard's father, Warren Packard and it is intriguing to note that the first example was gifted to Mr. Warren Packard from his two sons James and William. One can only assume that the photograph lovingly placed on the inside of the case is that of either a young James Ward Packard or William Doud Packard and one can further argue that this may have been the very first watch James Ward Packard was exposed to and where his love for horology started.

    The Patck Philippe minute repeating watch with up-and-down and the Vacheron Constantin clockwatch chronograph with trip repeat are perhaps the rarest of treasures to come to market in recent years. Their outstanding unused condition can only lead us to believe that these watches have been kept hidden away in a bank vault for over 60 years not being touched by human hands. These watches' impeccable provenance, complication of their mechanisms, the beauty of their cases and their superior and unmolested condition provide the novice and experienced collector alike the opportunity to own pinnacles of horological masterpieces.