Silver John Arnold pocket watch fetches new auction record

A large silver pocket chronometer by John Arnold (1736-99) has fetched a new Sotheby’s auction record when it sold earlier this month, greatly exceeding its pre-sale estimate.

The watch, dating back to 1781, was part of a larger collection of antique watches and sold for an incredible £460,000.

It was the highlight of the second part of a private collection titled ‘Celebration of the English Watch: John Harrison’s Enduring Discovery’, and sold for nearly three times its estimate of £130,000-£150,000.

The movement, signed ‘John Arnold, London, Inv. et Fecit London’ includes the double S balance which was introduced by Arnold in 1780, considered to be one of the most elegant compensated balances ever made.

The shaped S sections are bi-metallic and were designed as such to overcome the changing elasticity of the balance spring and expansion of the balance’s rim which is experienced in different atmospheric conditions.

What makes this watch even more special is the fact it is the only one of its kind that survived complete with the original 7cm silver consular case, white enamel dial and gilded full plate movement still intact.

The watch was offered at the Sotheby’s auction on the 7th July, and like many others in the catalogue, is illustrated in ‘The English Watch, 1585-1970’ by Terrence Camerer Cuss, who acquired it in 1947 from a private collection.