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June Watch Auctions a success at Bonhams
A unique gold hunter case watch with experimental escapement that sold for $60,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams announced strong results from its auctions of “Masterpieces of American Watchmaking: Rare Watches from a Private Collection," and "Fine Watches and Wristwatches" that took place June 12 in New York.

The larger of the two sales, the 325-lot “Masterpieces of American Watchmaking" auction, achieved $1.46 million. It featured watches from an extensive collection that documented the technical history of watch manufacturing in the United States. Representing a lifetime of collecting, the unique assemblage included representations from all periods of watchmaking.

Its leading lot was a Waltham unique gold hunter case watch with experimental escapement which achieved $60,000 (est. $15,000-20,000). Also by Waltham was a fine and very rare 18K gold hunter cased watch with Charles van der Woerd's patent balance that sold well, bringing $22,500 (est. $10,000-15,000). The American Watch Company of Waltham is the most prolific factory of the “cradle of American watchmaking" that is Boston.

George P. Reed highlights performed quite well in the sale. A highly innovative 14K gold open face chronometer, No. 5, signed "Improved Chronometer Pat'd Aug. 1, 1865," brought $56,250 (est. $20,000-25,000), while an important 18K gold hunter case "Improved Lever" watch, No. 1, signed "Patent improved lever/1857 & 1864," sold for $32,500 (est. $20,000-25,000). The numerous patents of George P. Reed are evidence of the spirit of innovation and experiment that characterized the developmental period of factory watch production.

E. Howard & Co., of Boston works also attracted bidders’ attention. A fine and very rare 18K gold hunter cased watch with Cole's escapement, helical balance spring and winding indicator, Series III, No. 6859, achieved $31,250 (est. $12,000-18,000) and a fine and very rare 18K gold hunter cased watch with helical balance spring, Series III, No. 6007, took in $27,500 (est. $10,000-15,000).

Additional highlights included a Warren Manufacturing Co., of Roxbury, rare and early hunter cased watch, signed Warren, Boston, No. 29, which achieved $31,250 (est. $25,000-30,000); a Ball & Co., of Cleveland, fine and rare 14K rose gold open face railroad watch with winding indicator, No. B 234852, made by the American Waltham Watch Co., that sold for $27,500 (est. $8,000-10,000); and a Freeport Watch Co. of Freeport Ill., rare and very fine 14K gold hunter cased watch, No. 1, attributed to Charles L. Hoyt, that brought $25,000.

The second sale of the day featured 109-lots of Fine Watches and Wristwatches, and brought $570,000. It was led by a 1920s, Art Deco, Cartier rock crystal, mother of pearl, onyx, diamond and coral boudoir clock that achieved $68,750 (est. $15,000-25,000). The clock was from the Estate of Norma Shearer (1902-1983), a popular screen actress from the mid-1920s through the 1930s. Ms. Shearer was nominated for six Academy Awards® and in 1930 she won Best Actress for her role in "The Divorcee."

Decorative watches that were made for the Chinese market performed well in the auction. A superb George Clerke of London, late 18th century watch featuring a finely painted enamel case made in Geneva that depicts Susannah and the Elders brought $60,000 (est. $30,000-35,000). Another key highlight was a Franck Muller reference 7851 platinum tourbillon wristwatch that brought $37,500.

Rounding out the sale was a large selection of vintage Rolex chronographs and sports watches dating from the 1930s through the 1970s. A 1970s Rolex reference 6263 stainless steel chronograph wristwatch and bracelet realized $31,250 (est. $15,000-20,000) and a 1950s Rolex reference 6234 stainless steel chronograph wristwatch brought $27,500 (est. $15,000-20,000). Of particular interest to James Bond fans was a rare Rolex reference 6538 stainless steel automatic center seconds "Big Crown" diver's wristwatch that achieved $23,750. The watch is known as the James Bond Rolex, as a watch of this model was worn by Sean Connery in the film "Dr. No."

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