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What's the value of a Thomas Tompion in 2022

aucaj

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I recently acquired my first Thomas Tompion this year. There have been around 3 Tompion watches sold in 2022. How do you determine the value? They seem to be all over the place. I understand that it has a lot to do with who sees it and is there to bid. But I gather a lot of market data on watches. In general there is an average value that typically emerges. The problem with Tompion watches is the lack of data. I'm seeking help from users that have maybe seen more of these come to market. Here are the ones from this year (at least the ones I saw):

1) Schmitt-Horan sold Tompion/Banger number 3415 in 22k gold case for $7500 ($9k with commission) on 11/22/2022.
This same watch is now listed here for £12500: Tompion & Banger pocket watch

I'm not sure how I feel about having originally competed with someone that just wants to flip the watch. Assuming his value is correct, this seller stands to make a hefty $6k profit! Then of course there is this gold example from a couple years ago selling for $33,000 Bonhams : Thomas Tompion, London. A fine gold key wind pair case pocket watch London Hallmark for 1700

2) David Penney had one for sale on his site just last week that sold. It was an all original Thomas Tompion circa 1704 with original silver case: £39,000

********
Any idea on what factors affect value (excluding watches with complications) OR is value dictated too much by emotional bid/buying to establish much of an objective evaluation?

- original cases/dial
- gold vs silver case
- Tompion make vs partnership productions (Banger, Graham)

FYI: I purchased my Tompion from a jeweler who specialized in estate items. I have left my information with all second-hand jewelry shops and precious metal scrap dealers in my area with the promise of paying more than scrap value. For anybody willing, I would encourage you to do the same. Antique watches are still being separated from their cases for the sake of scape silver/gold. Please help to rescue antique watches. You never know what might turn up.
 
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Bernhard J.

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Hi,

I would say it strongly depends on authenticity. I know of one, which can clearly be identified as a complete fake and is offered for about € 8000. And where - in contrast to other offers - the doubts are at least indicated.

I would say: Beware of offers below 10000 and look at them really closely (or ask an expert)

Best regards, Bernhard
 

aucaj

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Hi,

I would say it strongly depends on authenticity. I know of one, which can clearly be identified as a complete fake and is offered for about € 8000. And where - in contrast to other offers - the doubts are at least indicated.

I would say: Beware of offers below 10000 and look at them really closely (or ask an expert)

Best regards, Bernhard

Thanks, Bernhard. I assume the € 8000 fake is one that I referred to you in another post.

I should caveat that there are a lot of historical fakes. I am only considering authentic pieces in my market data that I collect. As you know, there are a few key aspects to look for in a true Tompion. That being said, the historical fakes do have value; just not as much as a true Tompion. I'm not sure if anyone saw the fake Quare that sold this week. Nice quality piece; but doubtfully made by him.

However, I can assure you that the Tompions mentioned in the above post are authentic.
 
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Bernhard J.

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Hm, I would not consider the Thompion & Banger as authentic, because at least the dial and the outer case are not original, both being immediately evident.

A recased and redialed Arnold, for example, was recently in auction with an estimate being a small fraction of the value of an authentic Arnold. And it did not sell...
 

aucaj

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Hm, I would not consider the Thompion & Banger as authentic
It is impossible to know if the outer case was added by the original owner or later.
It could just be semantics, but the movement is legitimately authentic and was made by Tompion. However, it is unfortunate that it is not all original.
 

Bernhard J.

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The style of the outer case is clearly second half of the 18th century?

In the high end field, I would estimate a factor of 4-5 in the market value between fully original on one hand and redialed and recased on the other hand. Speaking of the same maker.

I am not speaking of fake movements.
 

aucaj

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The style of the outer case is clearly second half of the 18th century?
Yes, I do not disagree. It is clearly from the mid 18th century. However, it does not have a bearing on the authenticity of rest of the watch.
 
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Bernhard J.

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However, it does not have a baring on the authenticity of rest of the watch.
I respectfully disagree. Different styles of different components make a watch unattractive for me at least.

I would have loved to have an Arnold with Arnold escapement, but did not bid (others apparantly neither) on the recased and redialed one, which I talked about. Styles did not match and this seriously disturbed me. The movement was "real" ...
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,

I recently saw a Tompion watch that failed to reach its reserve at £6,000 if I recall, and it was the real thing, but unfortunately it had been converted to a lever, probably early in the 19th century. I know such a thing would be unthinkable now, but consider what the Vulliamys did to many of the clocks in the Royal Collections and elsewhere.

More generally, the price of these very elevated watches does depend on the extent of their originality, and I think that example from David Penney was in exceptional and unmolested condition. Re-cased, re-dialled, or converted watches will inevitably sell for far less, and finding an untouched example after over 300 years, (that isn't in a museum or someone's bank vault), is going to be hard. On the plus side, many of the watches now boasting 18th or 19th century cases or dials wouldn't still be around if that work hadn't been done.

Outer cases did wear out and were sometimes just lost, but they are still part of the watch and it depends on how much of a purist you are!

Regards,

Graham
 
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Rich Newman

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I respectfully disagree. Different styles of different components make a watch unattractive for me at least.
I agree with Bernhard & Graham and have seen many. First, I would say that the 300 Years book by Evans, Carter & Wright is a "must have" reference and they document many hundreds of surviving Tompion watches. My thinking and assumptions follow:
1) There are many Tompion watches out there and the number of collectors is steady or declining;
2) Its a great time to be a collector because great watches will continue to come onto the market. In the past, they mostly sold privately, and while that certainly continues, there are opportunities at auctions and NAWCC marts more than before.
3) Given the number of Tompion watches out there, (some) collectors will wait for an opportunity that has original cases and dial. Indeed, when presented with replaced cases, they will discount their presence entirely and be thinking about whether they are interested in having a Tompion movement.
5) All of the above is subjective. Obviously early examples, or with complications, or important provenance factors greatly and may overcome originality.

However, as relates to this thread, In my humble opinion, Tompions with issues including missing parts, wrong dial, and replaced cases will sell in a fairly tight price range for the foreseeable future.
 

aucaj

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I acquired Thomas Tompion 4271 for the deal of the century. The serial number is stamped under the balance cock and it has a square balance spring pin and hole. The dial is a replacement and the case was replaced sometime in the mid 18th century.

I understand completely on Bernhard's point of view. There is another thread that talks about reasons for selling or gradual changes in which watches you collect. I think someone mentioned that as their collection grows their standards increase as well. I can relate to that.
I would welcome the opportunity to acquire a more completely original Tompion at a reasonable price. [I simply having trouble recognizing what a 'reasonable' price is.]
Since I did not already own a Tompion, I was glad to add number 4271 to my collection regardless of the originality of its condition.
 

gmorse

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Hi Bernhard,

I think it's important to distinguish authenticity from originality. I believe the Tompion I cited which was converted to a lever certainly wasn't original but it could be regarded as authentic; the owner who commissioned and the craftsman who carried out the work were prolonging the useful life of a valuable watch and were both acting honestly in their own way. I'm sure there would have been no thought on either part that what they were doing was unethical or even immoral, much as we may disagree with their actions now!

I sometimes think we are too quick to condemn the pragmatic decisions of our predecessors from the presumed lofty heights of our present knowledge.

Regards,

Graham
 

Incroyable

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Hm, I would not consider the Thompion & Banger as authentic, because at least the dial and the outer case are not original, both being immediately evident.

A recased and redialed Arnold, for example, was recently in auction with an estimate being a small fraction of the value of an authentic Arnold. And it did not sell...
There was a John Arnold Series III pocket chronometer in a later but period silver case that recently sold at Dr.Crott. However the balance had been "upgraded" by John Roger Arnold at some point the original being an Arnold Z balance.

The same auction also had a rather nice pink gold Arnold cylinder quarter repeater though the case also appeared to have been an early 19th century replacement albeit a very high quality one.

I suspect such things weren't regarded as sacrosanct in the past. Apparently many high-grade 18th century watches often received upgrades and recases in the early 19th century.

Personally I don't find such things objectionable so as long as it's all high quality.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Jeffery,
Apparently many high-grade 18th century watches often received upgrades and recases in the early 19th century.
That's so, I've handled a couple of fine Mudge & Dutton cylinders as well as some others which have been re-dialled and re-cased in this way in the early 19th century.

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Matthews

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I think it's important to distinguish authenticity from originality
Both aspects need to be revealed!

When you purchase a watch to add to a collection, you purchase an object with the imprint of the history that it has incorporated into that object. The decision to purchase has to be based upon both - the object as it is now is the summation of both. Examination of that object, together with research, will reveal information concerning its original manufacture and its history. In my opinion, both are of equal merit in terms to our understanding of horology and it would be a mistake to reject objects just because we just don't like their historical imprint.

Some collectors and museums do this, they only collect pristine original examples. This is their choice, but in doing so they are only 'getting' part of the story. I do not criticize collectors who do this, but I am critical of museums who do. It is sad that those museum that have purchased collections that contain objects, that are not pristine and original, but with significant historical imprint, do not have the incentive or resources to display & research those objects.

John
 

miguel angel cladera

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Apart from the factors of originality and authenticity or the changes that a watch may have undergone over time, I believe that price is a determining factor. I would pay 500 euros for a Tompion in a 19th century case. But not 5000. It is just a personal opinion
 

John Matthews

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I would pay 500 euros for a Tompion in a 19th century case. But not 5000.
Miguel - you make a valid point that price is important.

We all have financial boundaries that we have to respect - well at least if we do not wish to start down a slippery path. However, I set the amount I am prepared to pay on the basis of individual items and I might spend what some would regard as 'over the top' for items that are clearly not original. This because I value what I described as the 'imprint of history' more important than some collectors.

John
 
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miguel angel cladera

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Miguel - you make a valid point that price is important.

We all have financial boundaries that we have to respect - well at least if we do not wish to start down a slippery path. However, I set the amount I am prepared to pay on the basis of individual items and I might spend what some would regard as 'over the top' for items that are clearly not original. This because I value what I described as the 'imprint of history' more important than some collectors.

John
Actually, in some cases it takes a lot of knowledge to distinguish the historical imprint on a watch from a "franken" product.
 
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Bernhard J.

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Exactly, in particular, if e.g. an auctioneer does not disclose a later case and later dial, like in case of the Dr. Crott Arnold. To the knowledgable the dial is evidently "wrong". The case at least after a closer look. By the way, this watch had been auctioned earlier and the later case and dial had been clearly mentioned back then. And how should one know that this watch is not a "Franken" (= a movement being "completed" with a dial and case just somewhen in the last few decades?)

I personally do not disregard interesting watches, if they have been modified, see e.g. my "Shearer" 18K quarter repeater with cylinder escapement instead of the original detent escapement. But the price then just needs to be "right", even though the conversion likely was done in the 19th century, thus qualifying for "imprint of history".

I fully agree with the "imprint of history" aspect in another context. I would never consider to "reconvert" the "Shearer" or my 18th century repeater verge, which has been fitted with a lever escapement. Although this presumably would considerably raise the market value, in particular if the repeated conversions are left undisclosed.
 
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aucaj

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I would never consider to "reconvert" the "Shearer" or my 18th century repeater verge, which has been fitted with a lever escapement.
I agree; I would not reconvert a watch. However, there was one that made me consider it to be almost appropriate to reconvert, if it were mine.

It was originally an extremely rare double wheel escapement watch with repetition. There are only 5 known examples. This particular design was created as part of a Academy of Sciences competition against the newly created cylinder escapement by Graham.
Ironically, at some point in the double-wheel escapement watch history, it had been converted to a cylinder escapement :)
The watchmaker would be rolling over in his grave to know of this conversion.
 
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Incroyable

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It appears that many esteemed watchmakers were quite eager to "upgrade" older watches even if they were made by them.

Arnold and Barraud seem to have done many conversions and upgrades if one takes the examples that come up for sale as evidence.
 
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Dr. Jon

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I would not re-convert an old watch as a separate undertaking, but if i had ne very badly worn requiring a rebuild ( Assuming I would buy it in the first place), and I could find someone who could do it, I would have it restored to its original configuration unless the watch had a provenance showing it has been part of someone's life as converted.

If its major use had been after conversion I would keep it that way.
 
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Incroyable

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Converting--or re-converting as it were--an antique watch these days must exceed the value of the watch in most cases.

I can't imagine anyone who knows how to make a cylinder escapement or spring detent from scratch would charge less than several thousand for such an undertaking.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Bernhard,

I regard making a spring detent by hand to be the pinnacle of horological craftsmanship and I have the greatest respect for those few who can do this. I'm fortunate to know one restorer in the city near me here, but it's something I've never had the need to attempt up to now. I suppose I should try it some time! I anticipate that it will need a few attempts . . .

Regards,

Graham
 

rstl99

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I applaud your wonderful acquisition Chris, of this historically important Tompion watch. I especially complement your resourcefulness in finding different sources for interesting watches.

It is sad as you note that the "massacre of watches" (as Robert Kemp called such common practices a hundred years ago, in The Englishman's Watch) still goes on today: beautiful and significant watch movements likely scrapped by ignorant owners (likely survivors of deceased horological collectors) after stripping them from their case which is melted for gold or silver value.

You have saved a Tompion from such an ignominious fate, and I hope you get to preserve several more, to care with pride in your collection or eventually make available to appreciating collectors.

Robert
 

jboger

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Aucaj:

Back to your original question, I would say you have already answered it: you're limited by a sample size of three with a wide spread in values. That's the issue with a rare item. Something common that changes hands frequently will have many data point ,and those points generally will be tightly distributed about the mean. Certainly for three data points--or even two--you can calculate the mean, but it will have little significance. To get a handle on its significance, a statistician will tell you that you need to calculate the standard deviation, which is sometimes used to estimate the uncertainty in the mean. It gives you a handle on how the values are distributed about the mean. A large spread in the data means a large standard deviation and a large uncertainty. The only way to get around this is to have more data points. But the Tompion is a rare watch, and therein lies the problem, which you've already identified. So I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

John

PS: I wish I had a Tompion watch. JB
 

aucaj

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Aucaj:

Back to your original question, I would say you have already answered it: you're limited by a sample size of three with a wide spread in values. That's the issue with a rare item. Something common that changes hands frequently will have many data point ,and those points generally will be tightly distributed about the mean. Certainly for three data points--or even two--you can calculate the mean, but it will have little significance. To get a handle on its significance, a statistician will tell you that you need to calculate the standard deviation, which is sometimes used to estimate the uncertainty in the mean. It gives you a handle on how the values are distributed about the mean. A large spread in the data means a large standard deviation and a large uncertainty. The only way to get around this is to have more data points. But the Tompion is a rare watch, and therein lies the problem, which you've already identified. So I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

John

PS: I wish I had a Tompion watch. JB
Hi John,

Obviously, the few Tompion's that sold this year should not be used to produce any kind of market mean. Actually, I am really interested to know if anyone has an opinion on the third part of the question: Is there a distinction in value among the various periods of his career and specifically during his partnerships:
Banger (1701-1708)
Tompion (1708 -1711)
Graham (1711 to 1713).

There are only 3 years between the partnerships, so there couldn't be too many watches with the solo Thomas Tompion signature from that period. Additionally, it might be important to consider that upon Tompions death, Graham claimed to have managed Tompion's shop for the years of their partnership.

In my opinion, it would be interesting to see comparisons between a Tompion(1708-1711), Tompion-Graham(1711-1713), an early George Graham verge, and an early William Webster verge. I understand that they probably used all the same suppliers, but it would be interesting to know if any distinct differences emerge from such a comparison. Just a thought. If any collectors with access and interests in such a project, please post or contact me.

I have attached photos of Thomas Tompion number 4271. This one dates from 1708 which is just after the dissolved Banger partnership.

v/r,
Chris

IMG_9667.JPG IMG_9668.JPG IMG_9669.JPG
 

Pieces Of Time

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I recently acquired my first Thomas Tompion this year. There have been around 3 Tompion watches sold in 2022. How do you determine the value? They seem to be all over the place. I understand that it has a lot to do with who sees it and is there to bid. But I gather a lot of market data on watches. In general there is an average value that typically emerges. The problem with Tompion watches is the lack of data. I'm seeking help from users that have maybe seen more of these come to market. Here are the ones from this year (at least the ones I saw):

1) Schmitt-Horan sold Tompion/Banger number 3415 in 22k gold case for $7500 ($9k with commission) on 11/22/2022.
This same watch is now listed here for £12500: Tompion & Banger pocket watch

I'm not sure how I feel about having originally competed with someone that just wants to flip the watch. Assuming his value is correct, this seller stands to make a hefty $6k profit! Then of course there is this gold example from a couple years ago selling for $33,000 Bonhams : Thomas Tompion, London. A fine gold key wind pair case pocket watch London Hallmark for 1700

2) David Penney had one for sale on his site just last week that sold. It was an all original Thomas Tompion circa 1704 with original silver case: £39,000

********
Any idea on what factors affect value (excluding watches with complications) OR is value dictated too much by emotional bid/buying to establish much of an objective evaluation?

- original cases/dial
- gold vs silver case
- Tompion make vs partnership productions (Banger, Graham)

FYI: I purchased my Tompion from a jeweler who specialized in estate items. I have left my information with all second-hand jewelry shops and precious metal scrap dealers in my area with the promise of paying more than scrap value. For anybody willing, I would encourage you to do the same. Antique watches are still being separated from their cases for the sake of scape silver/gold. Please help to rescue antique watches. You never know what might turn up.
Original Tompions start of at around $18000 upwards depends on condition and originality needs
 
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aucaj

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Hi Chris,

Just for comparison, here are an early Tompion clock-watch, (no. 83), from around 1685, and a Graham verge, (no. 4779), from before 1720.

View attachment 741679 View attachment 741678

Regards,

Graham
Thank you, Graham. I really appreciate the photos. Wow! These must have been watches that you had the fortunate opportunity of servicing. I am very envious that you got to see them upclose :)

The Geo Graham is very similar in style as you would probably expect. Do you know if the diamond shown is a true or faux pivot?

Kind Regards,
Chris
 
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gmorse

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Hi Chris,
Do you know if the diamond shown is a true or faux pivot?
As was the common practice for high quality work in these early days of jewelling, the endstone covers a very tiny jewel hole in a brass setting. The design of the table shows that the endstone setting is original.

DSCF8356.JPG DSCF8354.JPG

It also illustrates the normal Graham practice of stamping the underside with the serial number. The square stud hole is another characteristic that he shared with his former employer, (and wife's uncle).

DSCF8686.JPG

I don't think George Graham would ever have made anything so dishonest as a 'faux' jewel; he was known as 'Honest George' after all.

These must have been watches that you had the fortunate opportunity of servicing. I am very envious that you got to see them upclose
It was a great privilege to see them in such detail and do some restoration work.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Chris

I am a little surprised that you ask this question ...

Is there a distinction in value among the various periods of his career and specifically during his partnerships:
Banger (1701-1708)
Tompion (1708 -1711)
Graham (1711 to 1713).
The intrinsic 'value = price paid' of an individual watch depends many factors, including all aspects of its condition, originality, quality and provenance. Then in addition on how it is valued by a potential buyer in order to to add it to his/her collection. While this is true for all watches, from whatever period, it is surely going to be more so when considering the work of famous makers. In any auction (private or public) the value of 'poor' specimens will have a small premium, but the premium paid for exceptional items in original condition from any of these makers will be exceedingly high.

John
 

Pieces Of Time

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Hi Chris,

Just for comparison, here are an early Tompion clock-watch, (no. 83), from around 1685, and a Graham verge, (no. 4779), from before 1720.

View attachment 741679 View attachment 741678

Regards,

Graham
Hi,

I would say it strongly depends on authenticity. I know of one, which can clearly be identified as a complete fake and is offered for about € 8000. And where - in contrast to other offers - the doubts are at least indicated.

I would say: Beware of offers below 10000 and look at them really closely (or ask an expert)

Best regards, Bernhard
So true oinly by from someone you can trust and rely on and if itrs wrong which so many are you can return it.
Tompions and Grahams are getting much harder to find we have not had a good one by either maker for over a year seen many fakes turning up on ebay
 

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