Global online bidding fuels Bonhams Fine Watches auction in New York

Fine Watches and Wristwatches
18 Jun 2013
New York

NEW YORK — Global online bidding fueled Bonhams June 18 Fine Watches & Wristwatches auction, which registered more live internet bidders than any other watch auction held at the Madison Avenue salesroom. The auction, which was simulcast at Bonhams San Francisco, was sold 80% by lot. US bidders were the slight majority, with the UK, Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, South Asia, and South America all represented. Telephone bidders and focused attendees on both coasts competed vigorously with the unprecedented online interest.

"Fine watches and wristwatches are highly desirable all over the world, so it makes sense that bidding via the internet would be exceptionally popular," explained Jonathan Snellenburg, Bonhams Director of Fine Watches & Clocks. "We are very pleased to be connecting so effectively with our international clientele."

The auction saw strong results for the large selection of pocket watches on offer, proving the market for these classic timepieces remains solid. The auction's top lot was an Ilbery enamelled gold pocket watch, which sold for $86,500, more than double its pre-auction estimate. Made for the Chinese market at the beginning of the 19th century, the pocket watch will be headed home to China after being purchased by a private buyer in Beijing.

A 17th century English verge pocket watch from Isaake Symes also doubled its pre-auction estimate, realising $30,000. Made circa 1620, the pocket watch was engraved at some point in the 18th century with the name of the gruesomely executed last Abbot of Glastonbury, Richard Whiting, and fraudulently dated 1536. No doubt the private American buyer who took home the pocket watch will appreciate both its exceptional age and colourful provenance.

A private single-owner collection of American pocket watches performed extremely well, selling 94% by lot. A Bonhams specialist spotted the rare group by chance in Portland OR, saving it from being sent to a gold refinery. A notable highlight was a Waltham anchor presentation pocket watch that realised $8,750. Bonhams will offer a second portion of this remarkable collection in the Fall.

Wristwatches also performed well, with excellent results achieved by a variety of esteemed makers, including Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Breguet. A Rolex fine 18 karat gold automatic centre seconds diver's watch and bracelet was one of the many fine examples purchased by a live online bidder in the auction, selling for $20,000, more than double its pre-auction estimate.

Also of particular note from the wristwatches section, an A. Lange & Söhne platinum wristwatch achieved $17,500, more than double its pre-auction estimate. The Lange, called the "AUF and AB" model in German, featured a special power reserve that warns the wearer if the watch needs to be rewound based on the position of the hands.

"We had some very fine wristwatches on offer, which attracted fierce global bidding driven by the excellent online participation," said William Rohr, Bonhams Consulting Specialist for Fine Watches & Wristwatches. "It's a very positive indication for the market going forward."

Bonhams next New York auction of Fine Watches & Wristwatches will take place in December. For more information, please visit


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

Related auctions