The World Time Victory watch, an extremely rare piece of horological history belonging to Winston Churchill, is up for auction at Sotheby’s, London, on 22 September.
By Rebecca Doulton
If anybody thought watch auctions were dull, stuffy affairs, think again. There is abundant proof that when certain iconic watches pop up at auction, horologists and collectors on the floor go wild. Remember the frenzy the Patek Philippe Graves Supercomplication garnered last year when it sold for a staggering $24 million, more than doubling the $11 m record it had already established in 1999?
Next week another landmark auction should be in the making as the Churchill Victory watch, packed with historical symbolism and the aura of Britain’s most famous leader, is coming up for auction at Sotheby’s London on 22 September, where it is estimated to fetch between £60,000-100,000. Nothing near the Supercomplication, but how many times will you get to hold a watch that belonged to one of history’s most influential and history-changing characters?
England is celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day this year and Sotheby’s watch auction rides the wave of nostalgia with the World Time Victory watch belonging to Winston Churchill. The 46mm gold pocket watch has a V for Victory proudly engraved on the caseback and the figure of St. George slaying the dragon on the dial to celebrate Churchill’s winning wartime leadership.
On the dial of the pocket watch, a delightful cloisonné enamel painting of St. George, Britain’s patron saint, is depicted with a trident in his hand slaying the dragon, a symbolic allusion to Churchill’s might and mettle before the enemy during WWII. Churchill’s determination was legendary, and the man who claimed “if you’re going through hell, keep going” inspired a group of Swiss citizens to commission the pocket watch, which he was presented with in 1946. It was, in fact, one of four individual watches created for the Allied Leaders after WWII - the others were given to Charles de Gaulle, Joseph Stalin and Henry Truman.
On the periphery of the enamel dial are the names of 44 cities and a black and white 24-hour chapter ring with a day and night indication. The city of London, marking home time, is placed at 12 o’clock and distinguished from the other cities by its gilt colouring. The pocket watch was designed by Louis Cottier, who entrusted Agassiz and Co. to create the complicated “Heure Universelle” or World Time movement. Cottier’s complex and highly accurate World Time movement would also be adopted by manufacturers like Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin.
Eyes peeled for the 22 September watch auction at Sotheby’s in London.