Bonhams Spring Watch Auction is coming up and I wanted to highlight one piece that caught my eye — Lot 43, a yellow gold pocket watch owned by sensational escape artist Harry Houdini. The watch, a minute repeater chronograph with calendar and moon phase (of unknown manufacture) was given to Houdini in 1914 by his English manager, Harry Day, and is inscribed “To my dear pal Houdini | From his Sincere friend | Harry Day | May 1914”. The lot notes also mention that a photograph of Houdini is included in the back lid of the watch. After Houdini’s death in 1925, the watch was given to his nephew, Harry White. What also struck me was the pre-sale estimate — just $10,000-15,000. Not bad for a handsome pocket watch — and a photo — of one of history’s more interesting characters. This pocket watch’s unique history will most certainly have magical appeal at auction!
Harry Houdini’s Pocket Watch
59mm 18k yellow gold, hunter case, minute repeater chronograph with calendar and moon phase
back lid contains photograph of Houdini
“To my dear pal
Did You Know?
The celebrated escape artist known as Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was born into a rabbinical family in Budapest as Erik Weisz. After his family relocated to New York City, Houdini, a star athlete in his youth, developed a keen interest in magic. Houdini named himself after celebrated French conjurer and clockmaker, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, whose clocks we will be featuring in our autumn Furniture and Decorative Arts Sale. In 1899, Houdini began working the vaudeville circuit and became famous for his handcuff tricks, earning the name “Handcuff Harry.” After escaping from numerous jails, straitjackets, chains, ropes, and one infamous Chinese Water Torture Cell, Houdini passed away at the age of fifty-two due to peritonitis from a ruptured appendix.