George Daniels Watch Sale Blows Away Estimates

George Daniels Space Travellers’ Watch

Sold:  $2.125 million (pre-auction estimate:  $640k – $960k)

It was a huge day in London today at the George Daniels Horological Collection Sale, hosted by Sotheby’s.   Almost without exception, every single lot that sold went for an amount higher than its pre-auction estimate, including the top lot of the auction which was a Daniels pocketwatch.  Three Daniels pocketwatches brought $1 million+.  4 of the top 5 lots were Daniels pieces, one a wristwatch.  The few pieces that did not exceed their pre-auction estimate range were not Daniels pieces (there were several lots not directly affiliated with the late Daniels).  Some of George Daniels’s pieces — pocketwatches and wristwatches — went for more than 2x their pre-auction estimate.  All in all, the sale was a fitting tribute to the late Dr. Daniels and a testament to the value of his work in the eye of collectors.  A run down of the top 5 lots — and one of my personal favorites — is below.

The late Dr. George Daniels

As I mentioned above, it was the George Daniels Space Traveller Watch (Lot #9) which turned out to be the big sale of the day.  It is only fitting that a Daniels watch be the top lot of the auction that bears his name.  In my view this was despite Sotheby’s terribly shortsighted decision to potentially have a non-Daniels piece outshine him at his own auction.  Fetching $2.125 million dollars, the Space Travellers’ watch was the highest selling piece, edging a Joseph Knibb table clock (Lot 130) by just over $100,000 (the Knibb lot had highest pre-auction estimate).  Also as a testament to the strength of demand to own a piece of George Daniels, the Space Traveller pocketwatch bested its pre-auction estimate by a factor of 2.5x.

Aside from the above-mentioned Joseph Knibb clock, George Daniels pieces rounded out the Top 5 lots of the auction.  The breakdown is as follows (all prices are Hammer + Buyer’s Premium):

George Daniels Minute Repeater+Tourbillon+Perpetual Calendar+EOT+Thermometer – (Lot #10)

Sold:  $1.463 million (pre-sale estimate: $800k-$1.3mil)

George Daniels Four Minute Tourbillon (Lot #11)

Sold: $1.051 million (pre-sale estimate: $480k-$800k)

George Daniels Yellow Gold Wristwatch with Four Minute Tourbillon

Sold:$616,000 (pre-sale estimate: $240,000-$400,000)

And lastly a personal favorite for me, three sets of “The Art of Breguet” were sold.  The trio of books were authored by Daniels in 1975 — the three sets for sale were among just 21 sets privately bound for Daniels himself.  Each set blew away the estimate of $1,300 – $1,900 per set.  Interestingly, the first two sets went for $5,197 and $5,997, respectively.  But the last set went for a whopping $13,993!  Whether it was because this was the set No. 21 of 21 or because it was the last set offered at the sale I do not know, but clearly someone wanted to own these books.  And what a treasure they will surely prove to be!

The Art of Breguet, by George Daniels (1975)

privately bound for the author by Zaehnsdorf, ltd. edn., No. 21 of 21, gilt tooled calf binding with marbled end papers

Sold:  $13,993 (pre-sale estimate $1,300-$1,900)

By the way — if you missed my pre-auction preview (see:  Reflecting On George Daniels:  An Interview and An Auction), now would be a good time to jump on over to it — if only to read the fascinating (and I mean fascinating!) December 2009 interview of Dr. Daniels by Constantin Stikas.