A Grand Complication pocket watch in 20-carat gold by Vacheron Constantin that belonged to famed collector James Ward Packard brought $1,800,000 at Christie’s New York auction. Bidders from around the world displayed keen interest, driving the price to an absolute record for Vacheron Constantin in the U.S. market. Packard was one of the first U.S. collectors to work directly with the Geneva-based watch manufacturer to build up a collection of unique timepieces.
The watch, in addition to displaying the hours, minutes and seconds beneath a rock crystal glass, features a personalized combination of complications including hour, minute, quarter and half-quarter repeating, grande and petite sonnerie, as well as a 30-minute chronograph register.
The back of the piece features a “JWP” monogram on blue enamel, executed in Geneva following a sketch made by Packard himself. The dust cover bears the inscription “Fabrique pour James Ward Packard, Warren Ohio, 1918, par Vacheron & Constantin Geneve – Suisse”. This elegant timepiece is in impeccable condition, having been preserved in the safe of a bank where it had remained untouched for the past 60 years.
Christie’s description read as follows: Signed Vacheron & Constantin, Geneve, Suisse, Movement No. 37555, Case No. 231922, made for James Ward Packard in 1918. Nickel-finished two-train lever movement, 43 jewels, wolf’s tooth winding, bi-metallic compensation balance, micrometer regulator, trip minute repeating on two gongs activated through the pendant, three levers in the band for lock/unlock of chronograph function, grande/petite sonnerie and strike/silent, gold cuvette inscribed FABRIQUÉ POUR James Ward Packard, Warren, Ohio, 1918 PAR VACHERON & CONSTANTIN, GENÈVE – SUISSE, white enamel dial, Roman numerals, two subsidiary dials indicating constant seconds and 30 minute register.