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Gold Full Hunter Pocket Watches: History & Valuations

A gold pocket watch would always have been a prized possession even if it was in regular use. Gold Full Hunter pocket watches (also known as Savonnette watches) have a hinged metal cover that protects the delicate face of early pocket watches from damage, scratching and dust. The lid usually has a spring mechanism so that the cover would pop open when a button was pressed.

This added an extra layer of protection to the watch and also made it easier to check the time without having to open the cover every time. 

Pocket watches were originally developed in the 16th century, but they did not become widely used until the 19th century. Prior to this, people used sundials or carried small portable clocks with them. However, pocket watches soon became a popular accessory for wealthy individuals as they were more convenient and stylish. As technology advanced, different styles and features were introduced to pocket watches, including full hunter cases.

In addition to their practical use, gold full hunter pocket watches also served as a status symbol. The cost of these timepieces was significant and only those from higher social classes could afford them. 

Find Me A Specialist Pocket Watch Valuer

With over 150 auctioneers in the UK, choosing the right one can be daunting.

Our service connects you with the ideal specialist, ensuring accurate valuations and sales assistance.

Leveraging over fifteen years of industry experience, we match your items with the auctioneers most likely to achieve the highest prices, maximising your chances of a successful sale.

The valuers we work with have been carefully selected based on their reputation, specialty areas, and success rates. We work closely with them to market your items effectively and attract the right buyers.

If you would like a free, no obligation valuation from an expert pocket watch valuer please use the contact form below.  It’s a simple as 1, 2, 3.

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    The Market for Full Hunter Pocket Watches

    Gold Full Hunter and Savonnette pocket watches generally command a premium over pocket watches made from other materials. Firstly, there is the intrinsic value of the metal itself but in addition gold pocket watches were usually made as a statement piece and are of a high quality. Gold Hunter pocket watches are often in very good condition because of the protection provided and as such they are highly sought-after by collectors. 

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

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    What To Look For In Your Pocket Watch

    Pocket-watch-value

    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.

    Complicated-pocket-watches

    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.

    Pocket-watch-valuations

    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

    The History of Full Hunter Pocket Watches

    The earliest watches date to the 1500s. They had just one hand and their accuracy varied by as much as 15-30 minutes a day. Glass and crystal was not used to protect the face of the pocket watch until around 1630 and even then they were still prone to scratching and dust.

    A Full Hunter, also known as a Savonnette, was the solution to this issue. A solid lid would cover the face to protect the hands and crystal. This was usually spring loaded so that the cover would pop open at the press of a button to allow the time to be read. Classic Hunter watches have the hinge at the 9 O’clock position and the crown/release button at the 3 O’clock position.

    Hunter is the term used for these watches in the UK and comes from whom the style of pocket watch was most popular with in Britain. Hunter pocket watches were very robust and were popular with hunters, who could retrieve and open the watch with one hand while the other held the reigns of their horse or their gun.

    Savonnette is the French term for the Hunter pocket watch. The name comes from the shape created by the additional cover, which is said to resemble a round bar of soap known as a savonnette in French.

    These watches were robust and allowed additional surfaces for decoration but were ultimately a bit cumbersome to use. The Half Hunter pocket watch was the solution to this as the case had a small opening through which the time can be read without the need to open the case.

    For a complete history of the development of pocket watches from the 1500s to pocket watches in the twentieth century please see our page on gold pocket watches