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Complicated and Super Complicated Pocket Watch Valuations

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. 

Complications have always been a way for watchmakers to showcase their technical skills and create unique timepieces. In fact, some of the most complex and intricate watches ever made are those with multiple complications.

One of the most popular complications is the chronograph or stopwatch function. This feature allows users to measure elapsed time, making it useful for activities such as sports or daily tasks. Chronographs can be found on both pocket watches and wristwatches, and they come in various designs ranging from simple two-button models to more complex ones with multiple sub-dials.

Another common complication is the moon phase indicator. This feature tracks the phases of the moon and displays it on a small window or sub-dial on the watch face. It was originally developed for sailors and farmers who needed to know when the tides would change or when to plant their crops according to lunar cycles.

Find Me A Specialist Pocket Watch Valuer

How To Sell: Auction or Private Sale?

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.

Selling at an auction might provide your watch with greater exposure. However, with a combined average of 45% in gross buyers’ and sellers’ fees, this approach might prove to be a false economy.

Conversely, finding a private buyer for your pocket watch through our services could net you 33% more than if you sold it via auction, as our fees are only 12%.

What We Do For You

Simply fill in your contact details below and you will get an automatic referral to a leading pocketwatch auction expert who will give you an auction estimate and advise on how to sell with them.  We will also see if we are able to get any offer from our private clients. 

If we get any offers we will send these within 4 days.  All offers are without obligation and there are no fees to pay us if you decide to sell at auction.

Pocket Watch Valuation Tips

To get the most accurate valuation of your pocket watch simply ensure you provide the following information:

  1. Include the width of the pocket watch across the dial but DO NOT include the winder or bow in this measurement.
  2. Let us know if the watch is working – just knowing that it ticks when wound is enough.
  3. How heavy is the watch?  While we can value pocket watches simply by looking at the images, if you can let us know the total weight of the watch (in grams) then we can be a lot more accurate.
  4. PROVENANCE! Who owned the watch before it came to you?  Perhaps it was a family member who fought in a war, or a relative who had friends in high places.  These stories matter and can impact the value of the watch more than you think.
  5. Boxes and paperwork.  Does the watch have its original box and paperwork?  If so let us know as this will make a difference to the valuation.

Expert Pocket Watch Valuation

Use the form below or send images of your pocket watch to be connected with a pocket watch expert.

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    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.

    What Our Customers Say

    Excellent5.0 Based on 366 reviews fromSee all reviewsb M.b M. ★★★★★ The service from the Littler team is exceptional. Many businesses make big promises and very very few deliver. Littler actually deliver. In addition. all the team that i dealt with were courteous and efficient and the service from start to finish was flawless. I cannot recommend them highly enoughkaren mc V.karen mc V. ★★★★★ Excellent service from initial email to sale completion. Highly recommend Mark and his team. Everything dealt with efficiently. Thank youJose V.Jose V. ★★★★★ I recently had the pleasure of working with Mark Littler to sell my collection of 14 high-end whisky bottles, which included my precious Karuizawa collection and a 40-year-old Port Ellen, and I couldn't be more pleased with the experience. From the initial consultation through to the final sale, Mark and his team demonstrated unparalleled professionalism and deep market knowledge. They provided expert advice on pricing and marketing strategies, ensuring that my collection reached the right buyers and secured the best possible price. It's clear that Mark Littler is exceptionally skilled in handling luxury collections, and I would highly recommend his services to anyone looking to sell high-value items with confidence and ease. Thank you, Mark, for making what could have been a daunting process, smooth and rewarding!Brian P.Brian P. ★★★★★ A very efficient sales service from quote through delivery to payment. All done with care and a smile. Thanks.Brian S.Brian S. ★★★★★ I had a bottle of 25 year Anniversary McAllan and was looking at the options available.Direct selling / via broker / go to auction?To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this. I'd convinced myself that this whole process was going to be a bit of a pain.I'd envisioned bargaining back and forth with various entities, paying through the nose for commissions / insurance / postage etc...So, did some investigation, looked at number of these possibilities and decided to contact Mark Littler.No regrets.Quite simply: Great service from ML teamSo, what was good?Prompt communicationClear defined processesVery fair price offeredBottle Return process : Fully insured, solid packing materials provided.Contract clear & simple (client copy provided)Payment was completed within two days of them receiving my bottleSo thanks Matt & Rachel.Your professionalism and friendly service has been greatly appreciated.Kind regards,BrianEddie F.Eddie F. ★★★★★ I am so pleased with the service I have received from Mark and his team. He has guided me through the whole process of selling my Dad’s whisky collection, Including sending the less valuable stuff to auction. I’d highly recommend him without a doubt.Charles S.Charles S. ★★★★★ Excellent professional service - prompt, uncomplicated, efficientscott M.scott M. ★★★★★ I can’t recommend Mark and Katy enough. My whisky casks were sold for more than I expected. This was done with minimum fuss. Their communication was great and I shall be using them again.SusanSusan ★★★★★ Can you tell me the hallmark for this medalResponse from the ownerHi Susan. Please can you email images to [email protected] and we'll be happy to help. Tom H.Tom H. ★★★★★ Matt Tweats at Mark Littler has been super helpful and gone above and beyond to help me sell my whisky collection. Thank you very muchCharles L.Charles L. ★★★★★ It was a pleasure to deal with Mark and his team in the sale of my whisky cask. Excellent customer service, communication, professional, helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly.Overall, I would have no hesitation in endorsing Mark Littler Ltd in achieving the best price if you are looking to sell your cask.Geoffrey B.Geoffrey B. ★★★★★ I wanted to sell a couple of whisky casks and used Mark Littler Ltd as my whisky broker. Apparently it is a slow process but Mark Littler managed to push the sale through quickly and at a good price. I have no hesitation in leaving this 5* review for the company.js_loader

    What To Look For In Your Pocket Watch

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    Condition/originality

    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.

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    Complications

    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.

    Gold-Pocket-Watch-Valuations

    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.

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    Age

    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+.

    Pocket-Watch-Worth

    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.

    Antiuqe-Pocket-Watch-Valuations

    Manufacturer

    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

    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