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Complicated and Super Complicated Pocket Watch Valuations

Value & Sell Your Complication Pocket Watch

A complication is any addition to a watch that is not to do with telling the time. Calendars, moon phases, repeaters, alarms, chronographs (stopwatches) and so on, are all complications that were added to pocket watches from early in their development. Pocket watches with alarms can be found from 1685 and with date apertures from 1700 and before.

The Market for Complications in Pocket Watches

Complications make pocket watches more desirable to collectors. Some complications are more commercial than others, but generally speaking the more complications, the more commercial the pocket watch and while this is true for antique pocket watches it is just as true for modern examples.

If you would like more information on the history of complications in pocket watches please see the history at the end of this page. Mark Littler can also assist with valuation and sale of your complication or supercomplication. Please use the form on this page to get in touch for a no obligation valuation and advice on selling your pocket watch and explore this page for the 6 things that impact the value of your pocket watch with complications.

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What to look for in your complicated pocket watch



The condition and originality of a watch has the greatest bearing on its value. What could outwardly appear to be a rare 17th century verge pocket watch, may have had a large proportion of its movement replaced or cannibalised over the years (replacement dial etc). These changes might only be known to a watchmaker or collector so a guarantee of originality will positively impact the value if you are looking to sell.

The outward condition of the watch is easier to assess yourself. Cracks to the dial, worn cases or erased presentation engravings can negatively impact the value of a pocket watch.



Very broadly speaking, the more complications the greater the value of the watch. Minute repeaters are some of the most sought-after complications as well as: tourbillon, split-seconds chronograph (or rattrapante), chronometers, perpetual calendar and phases of the moon, to name but a few.

If your watch has only the repeating complication then the repeating frequency (hour, quater, minute etc) will impact the value. With rarer repeating frequencies generally more sought after. Quarter repeaters are the most common. The mode of repeating (bell, gong, vibration) will also have an impact.


Case material

With the exception of watches with ‘out of the ordinary’ movements or features (chronometers etc) the case material can have a significant bearing on the value of the watch. Generally speaking 18ct gold pocket watches are more valuable than 9ct gold pocket watches, silver pocket watches and gold or silver plated pocket watches are worth less again.

The most obvious example of this can be seen with gold cased watches: three seemingly identical watches with identical Waltham movements could be several thousand pounds different in value depending on the case material, i.e. gold plated vs. 9ct gold vs. 18ct gold.



The most expensive pocket watch ever sold at auction was only made in 1933. The price of the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 was not released, but it is fair to estimate that it is likely the most expensive pocket watch ever produced, and was only made in 2015.

As such the age of a watch does not necessarily invoke a high value. For example, pair cased silver verge watches from the reign of George III can be sold for as little as £100 at auction (condition dependant) yet an Edwardian minute repeater can easily sell for £1,000+.


Provenance & certificates

Provenance can add a significant amount of value to a watch and sometimes the provenance will be of more value than the watch itself.

A good example of this would be a watch that could be proven to have been on the Titanic; the story attached to the watch is what would be valuable rather than the pocket watch itself.

The original chronometer certificates, receipts, boxes and paperwork can also add significant value to a watch when they are still present.



In alphabetical order here is a list of some manufacturers that command a significant premium:

  • Audemars Piguet
  • Breguet
  • Harrison
  • IWC
  • Massey
  • Mudge
  • Omega
  • Patek Phillpe
  • Perrelet
  • Rolex
  • Tiffany
  • Tompion
  • Vacheron Constantin
  • Zenith

Sell your pocket watch

In order to provide you with an accurate valuation please provide as much of the below information as you can. Valuations are free and offers are sourced with no obligation.

Watch Valuation Form
Images of you watch & box
Maximum upload size: 10.49MB

Selling you complication pocket watch with Mark Littler Ltd.

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Send us details about your watch directly via email or use the form below.

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We contact our international network of customers for the best offers.

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If you decide to proceed with an offer we issue you with a contract.

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Send us your watch. We have a fully insured courier service available.

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We complete the sale with the buyer and send your funds via BACS.

Auction or Private Sale?

If you are deciding on how to sell your pocket watch we can have a no obligation chat on the best options for you. We can either make a personal introduction to the best saleroom based on your location and item free of charge. Or we can look into collecting you some no obligation offers for a private sale, which could save you considerably in commission.

In a nutshell here are the main pros and cons of each option:

  • Auctions can provide an increased market exposure (when you choose the right saleroom) but their gross fees can reach as much as 50%, and the payout times can be drawn out.
  • Private sales leave you in control of the price, and can be completed quickly but there is no chance of ‘buyers fever’ driving up prices.

Mark Littler Ltd. are one of the only independent advisers in the antique industry. We offer trusted, independent advice to help you sell your pocket watch for the highest possible price.

This History of Complications in Pocket Watches

Complications are achieved with the addition of gears and notches that allow the hands to move at different rates compared to other functions. The requirement of additional functionality from a personal watch is not a new development; complications were added to watches almost as soon as they were developed. Alarms and repeaters can be found from 1685, and date apertures appeared prior to 1700.

Repeaters were a particularly useful example of an early complication as they allowed the time to be sounded at will. Which meant that the time could be told even in the dark. Quarter repeaters are the most common, but minute repeaters are popular with collectors.

Generally speaking the more complications a pocket watch has, the more complex it becomes and therefore the more skill needed to make it. This is a correlation that is still true today, and which means that the more complications a pocket watch has the more valuable it becomes.

Supercomplications and Grand Complications

A Supercomplication or Grand Complication is a term that was coined in the early twentieth century to describe a pocket watch that has multiple complications. There is no strict definition, but the common theory seems to be that it must have at least three complications; one from each of the timing, astronomical and striking complication groups.

The Henry Graves Patek Phillippe Supercomplication

The addition of more and more complications within a set space was one of the great competitions of the early twentieth century. The most important historic example was the Patek Philippe Supercomplication that was commissioned by Henry Graves. It was completed in 1933 and had 24 complications. It remained the most complicated pocket watch in the world for 50 years.

In 1989 Patek Phillippe broke their own record when they made the Calibre 89 with 33 complications. The Patek Phillippe Calibre 89 held the title until 2015 when Vacheron Constantin released Reference 57260, a private commission with a record-smashing 57 complications.

The Henry Graves supercomplication remains notable because it was made without the aid of computers. It was in all likelihood the pinnacle of pocket watches, which declined in popularity sharply between the 1920 and 40s in favour of wristwatches. The other notable aspect of the Henry Graves Supercomplication is that it currently holds the record for the most expensive watch ever sold at auction – it hammered at an astounding $24million in 2014

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Sell your pocket watch

In order to provide you with an accurate valuation please provide as much of the below information as you can. Valuations are free and offers are sourced with no obligation.

Watch Valuation Form
Images of you watch & box
Maximum upload size: 10.49MB