Pocket Watch Guide: What is your antique pocket watch worth?

We are giving you an insight into the different ways in which a valuation is considered when looking a movement, from a UK pocket watch to Swiss and other European antique watches they are almost always valuated using these methods. In part 1 we will be looking at how to identify your watch, how to define the age and how to establish the quality.

Marie Antoinette's Antique Pocket Watch

Identifying your pocket watch

Essentially, if you don’t know what the watch in your possession is then there’s simply no way of telling how much it is worth. In order to determine an accurate valuation, you must first establish who made the watch (manufacturer), and gather as much information as possible about the model, ages, grade, size, complications, quality and unique features of your watch.

Age of your watch

When determining the age of an antique pocket watch, particularly Swiss or European watches, it is much harder to determine its age because there are no serial numbers like their American counterparts. Swiss watches with no serial number have their age estimated by the style of the movement along with its construction. This requires a years of experience, knowledge and an understanding of how watches were made over the years.

Quality of the timepiece

It’s no secret that antique pocket watches were made using a range of materials depending on their value, much today’s wrist watches. Defining the overall quality of your watch is vital point to understanding its value. As a rule the higher the jewel count, the higher the quality. Most antique movements, of course with a few exceptions, have a minimum count of seven jewels. Standard movements can expect to have their highest jewel counts at 23 or 24 jewels. Pieces with below 15 jewels is considered to be a lower-grade watch, 15-17 jewels a full-jewelled, mid-grade watch, with 19, 21, 23 or 24 jewel would be categorised as higher-grade. The number of jewels is sometimes marked on the watch in this way “21J”, however some time pieces can only be determined by a watchmaker’s examination of the watch.