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Invented over 600 years ago, clocks are one of the oldest devices created by our ancestors in the birthplace of modern civilization. By giving us the means to track time, build schedules and control the flow of our daily routine, clocks shape the way we live today.

Pocket watches made their entrance to society in early late 1400s and early 1500s, when mechanical engineering reached the state when simple spring devices could be made, the first personal, transportable mechanical timepiece. In the early years pocket watches were not the best due to accuracy. Not until the late 1700s did the watches evolve to more accurate watches in which not but a minute or two would be lost in a day with the introduction of lever escapement and the minute handle. Nonetheless, pocket watches were deemed a luxurious item that received much attention from fashion designers and innovators since their introduction. It was deemed a fashion statement from the beginning evolving from simple looking pocket watches to luxurious pocket watches made by expensive materials and components including Gold and jewels by top brands such as Patek Phillippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Rolex.

Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe was founded in 1839, and is one of the last independent, family-owned Genevan watch manufacturers. The company has a vibrant uninterrupted operating history spanning nearly 180 years, benefiting from a unique legacy of tradition and innovation. Current rare Patek pocket watch prices range from high $50K to low 30Ks. Henry Graves Supercomplication, a Patek Philippe pocket watch made in 1932 that was auctioned in 2014 in Geneva for $24 million USD, the most ever paid for a timepiece in auction history. The pocket watch boasts 24 “complications,” or features; moon phases, the time of sunset and perpetual calendar that won’t require resetting until the year 2100, it has 920 individual parts, including 430 screws, 110 wheels and 70 jewels.


Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in 1905. He had a visionary spirit in which he dreamt of a watch worn on the wrist, as wristwatches were not very precise at the time. Hans foresaw that they could be more elegant, but also more reliable. Today, Rolex is seen as the most luxurious, elegant and watch brand on earth. Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona in 2017 became the most expensive watch ever sold at winning bid of $17.8 million USD. The Rolex Marconi pocket watch, made in 1950 is the most expensive Rolex pocket watch every sold as just over $5 million USD at an auction held in Geneva. The pocket watch is one of only three that feature a black dial and diamond markers, and the only one to boast diamond markers at every even hour. It is crafted in 18 carat yellow gold, and has a triple calendar, moon phase indicator. The history of the watch goes back to its purchase by the last emperor of Vietnam, Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy, in 1954 for an unknown amount. Upon the emperor’s death the watch was sold at an auction for $235K USD in 2002, at the time the most expensive Rolex pocket watch ever sold at an auction. The same purchaser is who brought the watch back to be auctioned in 2017 and sold it for over $5 Million.

Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin is another world know watch manufacturer that was founded in 1755 by Jean-Marc Vacheron in Geneva, Switzerland. The long-lasting traditions company passed hands over generations, including the French Revolution in the late 1700s. Today, Vacheron Constantin watches are seen as worldly timekeeping quality and luxury in any of their watch types. In 2015, during the manufacturer’s 260th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin revealed the world’s most complicated mechanical pocket watch, named reference 57260. It took three watchmakers eight years to build the 57-complication watch at the request of a client, who is estimated to have paid between $8 and $20 Million USD. The watch features 57 complications, surpassing Patek Phillipe’s Calibre 89 which previously held the record for more than quarter of a century with 33 complications. In addition, the pocket watch has many unique features including 18 carat white gold, double retrograde split-second chronograph, inclusion of a Hebraic perpetual calendar that operates on a 19-year cycle, and night mode that disables the gong strikers between 10pm and 8am to name a few.

Watches are highly sought after collectibles. The luxurious perception is still true, and this often times reflects in the appreciation of owners and collectors when it comes to value.

We also buy watches made by Cartier, Omega, Hublot, Tissot, Tiffany, Longines and more. Anything antique or vintage is always wanted as well. If you have a watch you would like to get a price estimate for and to sell, please contact us at Syl-Lee Antiques. We will evaluate your watch, and ensure your watch is purchased at the most ideal price.

Syl-Lee Antiques — NYC Antiques Buyer
Call us at (212) 366-9466 to schedule your in-home antique evaluation or contact us via email.