Pricing of Grande Complication Tourbillon Frodsham in 1934.

Incroyable

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I came across this old invoice for J.P.Morgan's purchase of two grande complication tourbillons from Frodsham in 1934.

What's striking is the price of 350 pounds or guineas which according to the Bank of England's inflation calculator is only £17,489.50 today.

If you were to order something like this today it would probably easily surpass half a million dollars.

The 1934 date is also curious since the heyday of the English watch was over by then.

charles-frodsham-jp-morgan-chronograph-tourbillon-alexandra-mccain-1.jpeg
 
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Dr. Jon

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Look at it this way; a Guinea was 1/4 Oz troy of gold. 350gns is 87.5 troy Oz of gold. That is about $170,000, still a bit light for today, but closer.
 
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Incroyable

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Look at it this way; a Guinea was 1/4 Oz troy of gold. 350gns is 87.5 troy Oz of gold. That is about $170,000, still a bit light for today, but closer.
I imagine by 1934 there were very few English watchmakers capable of making this kind of watch unless it was a Swiss ebauche.

If anything there are probably more watchmakers today capable of making such an object than they were in 1930s England.

The other thing is that perhaps these were movements made decades before.

The Sotheby's listing states this was a Nicole Nielsen movement but doesn't go into further detail:

 

zedric

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Another way to look at it.. You could buy a terraced London house for £350 in the 1930s, and the average yearly earnings were about £165 per year.

 
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Incroyable

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Another way to look at it.. You could buy a terraced London house for £350 in the 1930s, and the average yearly earnings were about £165 per year.

This reminds me of a circa 1970 Japanese market price list I saw for Patek Philippe and Rolex.

The average price for a white gold ultra-thin wristwatch from Patek was 1,300,000 JPY back when the average annual middle class salary was around 1,000,000 JPY.

A platinum Rolex Day-Date was an incredible 8,000,000 JPY in 1970.
 
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aucaj

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It looks the buyer was J.P. Morgan. He could certainly afford the price
 

jboger

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I looked at the movement on the Sotheyby's site. I see a Geneva stops. And the shape of the jewels. Any chance these features argue for a Continental origin?
 

Incroyable

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I looked at the movement on the Sotheyby's site. I see a Geneva stops. And the shape of the jewels. Any chance these features argue for a Continental origin?
By 1934 it seems almost certain they were using Swiss parts for such a complex watch but I'll let more knowledgeable members chime in.
 

Dr. Jon

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The lever and escape wheel are Swiss, at least in style.

It looks like Nicole Neilson work and they did a lot in Switzerland.
 

John Matthews

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It looks like Nicole Neilson work
It not only looks like , it is.

The description provided in the link ...

Movement: first quality gilt three-quarter plate with double roller ratchet-tooth lever escapement and free sprung regulation, Guillaume balance with spiral blued steel balance spring and over-coil, the tourbillon with Nicole Nielsen Type 2 three-arm polished steel tourbillon carriage, the back plate further mounted with polished steel chronograph work, repeating on two polished steel gongs, signed and numbered By Appointment to the King AD F.m.s.z., numbered 010'330
John
 

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