Audemar Piguet pocket watch research

Diane M

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Hello,
A firend has inherited some family heirlooms and one of the items of interest is a pocket watch she currently has encased in a frame with photos of a relative she believes the watch belonged to. As the relative was a well-known civil war Brigadier General, she believes it is from the time during or right after the Civil War. He died in 1916.

The watch is a pocket watch and chain, and the face reads Audemar Piguet & Co. I have found the watchmakers, of course, but no watches that look like this, specifically with this face. I am attaching the best photo of it that I have currently, as it is in her home and behind glass. We plan to open the frame and remove it for further detail soon. Meanwhile, I'm trying to determine if it is, in fact, her great uncle's or perhaps one of his later family members with the same initials. Also of note, the back seems to swing freely, and I can't find a single watch with that feature on the internet. I am wondering if it is a modification, but won't know this until we remove the watch from the frame.

I realize not having more photos is limiting, but I am wondering if anyone has seen a similar face and case style together for this brand of watch, and can direct me in a direction for further research.

I thank you in advance.
diane m

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Ethan Lipsig

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. . . As the relative was a well-known civil war Brigadier General, [my friend] believes [the watch] is from the time during or right after the Civil War. He died in 1916.

[T]he back seems to swing freely, and I can't find a single watch with that feature on the internet. I am wondering if it is a modification, but won't know this until we remove the watch from the frame.

I realize not having more photos is limiting, but I am wondering if anyone has seen a similar face and case style together for this brand of watch, and can direct me in a direction for further research.
Diane, you said that your friend thought this watch was made during or shortly after the US Civil War. It's not nearly that old. I believe it was made between 1910-1930. If so, there's a good chance it wasn't the Civil War general's watch. By 1910, he probably would have been at least 75, probably beyond the age of buying a fancy dress watch like this one. By 1916, he was dead.

You also say that the back swings freely. I believe you are referring to the fact that, as presently framed, the back is detached from the watch. Many watch like this have snap-on backs. For whatever reason, the watch may have been framed with its back off or perhaps the back wasn't properly snapped in place when the watch was framed and later popped off.

You ask if anyone has seen an Audemars Piguet with this case and dial combination. Perhaps others like it exist, but AP sold watches like this in a wide variety of case/dial/hands combinations. For example, I own this platinum-cased AP.

IMG_5297_edited.JPG

Its case isn't like your friend's watch's case, but the dial and hands are identical except that my dial isn't signed, the numbers, hands, and dots are in white gold or platinum, not yellow gold, and my watch has a seconds hand dial. The seconds dial could have been left off your friend's watch purely for style reasons or because the movement was made for a hunter case (a case that has a front lid that must be opened to see the dial). Hunters were waning in popularity when your friend's watch was made. Many hunter movements were cased as open faced watches by either leaving off the seconds dial or tolerating it at the 9 o'clock position (due to the different orientation of 12 o'clock in hunter-cased watches).

Finally, you ask for suggestions for further research. That presupposes that there are likely mines of significant information that you or your friend would find useful. I doubt that there is much out there. If you post pictures of the movement and both sides of the back, folks here should be able to tell you a little more about the watch and may be able to date it more precisely.

What I can tell you is that Audemars Piguet was and still is a highly regarded firm. There is collector interest in its watches. If your friend's watch is in good working condition, it ought to be worth more than the net scrap value of its gold, but not a huge amount. To get an idea of value, use the advanced search feature on eBay and look for sold listings of comparable Audemars Piguet pocket watches.
 

MartyR

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Welcome to the board, Diane :)

The dial, hands and case could certainly be original. The dial is very dirty, and it seems to be a painted metal dial rather than enamelled, and the metal may be oxidised rather than just dirty on the surface.

I also am confused about the back "swinging freely", and perhaps you could tell us more about that. And I agree with Ethan that it is extremely unlikely that this belonged to your friend's relative, and certainly could not have been worn by him during the war.

Photos of the movement, and any internal case markings, will help us to give you much more information :)
 

Diane M

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Welcome to the board, Diane :)

The dial, hands and case could certainly be original. The dial is very dirty, and it seems to be a painted metal dial rather than enamelled, and the metal may be oxidised rather than just dirty on the surface.

I also am confused about the back "swinging freely", and perhaps you could tell us more about that. And I agree with Ethan that it is extremely unlikely that this belonged to your friend's relative, and certainly could not have been worn by him during the war.

Photos of the movement, and any internal case markings, will help us to give you much more information :)

Hi,
I have the watch in my hands now. I had to unstick it from the inside of the frame, where I discovered the framers had glued the watch to the background. It was disconnected from the back, which is why it was swinging freely. Some people. Sigh. Yes, the face is very dirty. I wouldn't have a clue how to clean that. I'd need to find a reputable watch repair person to take care of that for me.

After much careful work with veggie oil, the glue is gone from the back. Thankfully!

Inside the back and on the watch works are the numbers 19853. I gave the watch a bit of a wind and it's ticking away smoothly and quietly. I'm guessing the metal of the watchworks is silver? It looks a bit tarnished to me. I'm not touching it, though. I would normally polish silver. This...this scares me. LOL

Mostly, I'm trying to figure out how old this watch is. The owner thought it was her great uncle's, but there is another family member with the same name, so the initials on the back of the watch could be his. The engraving is gorgeous. Very stylized. It looks a little off because there's still some glue stuck to it. I am working it off slowly and carefully.

Any idea what time in history this pretty little guy is from?

Thanks!
diane

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MartyR

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My guess is that your watch has a snap-on back which became loose, and that it was glued on to keep the watch safe. Congratulations on your valiant efforts in ungluing it! If now the back does not snap on properly, you may need to have some repair work carried out!

The shape and decoration of the pendant scream "art deco" to me (1920/30s); the Egyptian stylisation of the pattern and the font used in the monogram on the back lead me towards the early part of that period. I will guess that the watch dates to early 1920s.

The case number 19853 matches (I think) the number on the movement beside the pendant. It may be possible to provide an accurate production date from this number, but that will depend on someone here having developed a database, or else AP themselves having kept old records. You could try contacting AP.

The movement plates will certainly not be silver. I'm not familiar with watches of this late date, but the plates could be nickel or perhaps steel. Again, you should be able to get this information from AP or even from one of their dealers ... if not here!
 

Ethan Lipsig

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The movement in your friend's watch is essentially identical to the one in the platinum AP I discussed in my prior reply (Post #2). As I said in that earlier reply, your friend's watch was almost certainly made between 1910-1930. What I see from your new photos is that the case on your friend's watch has enamelled decoration -- rings around the from and back rims and a decorated bow. That is a nice extra touch that adds something to the watch's value.
 

Diane M

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The movement in your friend's watch is essentially identical to the one in the platinum AP I discussed in my prior reply (Post #2). As I said in that earlier reply, your friend's watch was almost certainly made between 1910-1930. What I see from your new photos is that the case on your friend's watch has enamelled decoration -- rings around the from and back rims and a decorated bow. That is a nice extra touch that adds something to the watch's value.
Thanks! It's good to have an approximate timeline for the watch. I thought Art Deco or Art Nouveau, myself, when I saw the bow. I asked her a few more questions about her great uncle and his family, and learned his son has the same name, therefore, the same initials. The General died in 1916 and his son's life ranged from 1869-1952. So the General *could have* gotten the watch before he died, if it was early at the turn of the century, but there's a greater chance it was the son's watch from the start. It's still pretty cool that it was from that family line. I do know, from photos, that the General carried a pocket watch in his later years, though, of course, it might have been ANY watch. He was well-to-do, however, so whatever watch he carried would most certainly have been of a better quality than most other 'average' men of the era.

Thanks for responding! I'll continue my research for my friend. I love research, so this, for me, is the good part.
 

Diane M

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My guess is that your watch has a snap-on back which became loose, and that it was glued on to keep the watch safe. Congratulations on your valiant efforts in ungluing it! If now the back does not snap on properly, you may need to have some repair work carried out!

The shape and decoration of the pendant scream "art deco" to me (1920/30s); the Egyptian stylisation of the pattern and the font used in the monogram on the back lead me towards the early part of that period. I will guess that the watch dates to early 1920s.

The case number 19853 matches (I think) the number on the movement beside the pendant. It may be possible to provide an accurate production date from this number, but that will depend on someone here having developed a database, or else AP themselves having kept old records. You could try contacting AP.

The movement plates will certainly not be silver. I'm not familiar with watches of this late date, but the plates could be nickel or perhaps steel. Again, you should be able to get this information from AP or even from one of their dealers ... if not here!

Thanks for answering! The back snapped on smoothly and securely. And I got about 99% of the glue removed, thankfully!

I felt it was more Art Deco or Nouveau, myself. If it's from the 1920s, it would definitely be the General's son who bought it, not the General himself. He passed away in 1916.

The case number does match the movement. I thought at first the last number was different, but bright lighting and a better loupe helped me figure out they are the same. I appreciate your suggestion to contact AP. I plan to do that shortly.

Thank you again! I'm having fun learning about this lovely watch.
 

MartyR

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I suppose it is suggesting the obvious - but you could try contacting Audemars-Piguet directly...............
Paul
That was already suggested, Paul, and Diane is going to do that :) Do you know if AP hold archives going back to the early 1900s?
 

Audemars

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Oops, sorreeee!
I missed that bit.
I don't know too much about the AP archives (except that they also hold stuff about Louis Audemars) but I would have thought they would be pretty assiduous in their record keeping and there haven't been any major events (wars, fires &c) which might have intervened.
In the past I have found the chief difficulty is getting them to respond to enquiries. I shall be interested to hear how Diane gets on.
Paul
 

Diane M

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Hello, everyone!

I have been requested by Audemars Piguet to send photos of the watch, clearly depicting any numbers inside and on the watch. Now I wait. I was thrilled to hear from them, so I'm hopeful there will be more information shortly.

This is getting exciting!
diane mansil
 

Diane M

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Hi all,

I have been contacted by a very nice gentleman at Audemars Piguet and he had the following to say about the watch:

<quote>
After doing some research in our watch registry, the following information pertains to your timepiece:

Case # (identifies the specific timepiece): 19853

Caliber: 2001

Manufactued in the early 60s

Concerning the value of the watch, since this is considered a vintage timepiece, you would need to obtain an appraisal from a reputable auction house. Below are three that would be helpful.

They may need the timepiece in order to provide an estimate, however you would need to contact them directly for any additional information.

Christies:
Eric Wind : Ewind@christies.com
212-636-2000
Christie's Auctions & Private Sales | Fine Art, Antiques, Jewelry & More | Christie's

Sothebys:
Nate Borgelt : Nate.Borgelt@sothebys.com
212-636-2000
www.sothebys.com

Antiquorum:
Saori Omura : saori@antiquorum.com
212-750-1103

If you wish, we can also provide you with an Extract from the Registers official document, for a fee of USD $260 for data and more details on your timepiece. This can be done at the Service Center in Clearwater, Florida. This document does NOT authenticate a watch, it is only (as its name states) an extract of info from our Registers. Basically, this document states that per our Registers, case# xxxx refers to reference# (or model#) xxxx, circa xxxx. We just need to see the watch OR receive pictures of the front and back of the watch (showing the case number). So if you email us a picture of the front and back of the watch, we will be able to issue this document.

We also offer a handwritten Certificate of Authenticity with pictures, analysis of the watch, and movement. This true authentication service is offered for a fee of USD $1,040. This is done in Audemars Piguet Switzerland. The timeframe to get the Certificate of Authenticity and watch back from the Manufacture is around 6-8 weeks.
<end quote>

This certainly brings up questions to ask my friend about, considering both her uncle and his son were deceased before the 1960s. Unless, of course, the gentleman meant the 1860s, but I would guess he would have used all four numbers in that instance, not just ‘the 60s’. I’m guessing there is a third family member with the same initials, younger than either the General or his son, who owned the watch. Same lineage, but definitely not the same provenance.

At any rate, it is still a lovely treasure and now I need to talk to her to figure out how she wants to proceed.

Thanks for all the assistance! It was good to have some direction on the search.

Diane Mansil

 

MartyR

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1960s is a big surprise! I'm sure that must be correct, and it means that the watch was manufactured as a retro-style watch.

I wouldn't quarrel with your correspondent's "big three" auction house recommendations, which are all based in New York, but there are others elsewhere if your friend wants a valuation. You could also start a new post in our "What's this watch worth?" forum with a link to this thread (to give people the full details).
 

Jerry Treiman

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I would say that the 1960s date is more than a huge surprise ... I think it is an error. In searching the web I find the calibre 2001 is a wristwatch movement, which yours definitely is not. I would stick with Ethan's estimate of 1910-1930. I think your contact was too hasty and did not look far enough back in their records.
 

astonvilla

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The information you recieved is not correct. You need to contact the Audemars Piguet museum in Swirzerland . They have access to the old work books and can give you some information . This is the email adress : info.europe@audemarspiguet.com
 

hornbee

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It is not a first time when people in AP US give contradicting and completely wrong information about antique AP watches.
I had similar experience with AP NY.

Diane, serial number of your watch suggests the movement was manufactured in 1917-1918. The watch itself maybe made a little later. AP Switzerland certainly could provide the exact year of production and, probably, the date of sale.
This movement caliber is called SVF which has been produced in five versions during ~1910-1940s and in various thicknesses (at least three types). Your watch holds a very first version, from what I know.

Here is an AP timepiece identical to yours http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/important-watches-ge1204/lot.86.html
except only for the dial inscription.
 
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Diane M

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Thanks, everyone. I didn't think the timeline could be right, especially considering it shows in family photos from much, much, MUCH earlier than the 1960s. I will contact the museum, as suggested above, and will also post on the values forum linking this conversation, soon as I figure out how to do that. :) I will share what I discover from the museum.

Thank you again!
diane mansil
 

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