Sotheby’s, London, 22 September 2015
Sold for £485,000
This Agassiz and Co. World Time pocket watch has quite the illustrious provenance, made specifically for presentation to Sir Winston Churchill by a group of prominent Swiss citizens following the end of WWII.
One of four such watches made for each of the Allied leaders (the others going to Charles de Gaulle, Joseph Stalin and Henry Truman) the Churchill piece features a gold, half-hunter case with a back engraved with a world map, the celebrated “V for Victory” symbol and the dedication: “1939 – Prime Minister Winston Spencer Churchill – 1945.” The dial, meanwhile, is decorated with an enamel painting depicting St George slaying the dragon – by means of a trident-shaped hour hand.
The watch uses the fabled world time mechanism, recognisable for its outer cities ring and central 24-hour dial, developed in the 1920s by genius watch maker Louis Cottier and subsequently adopted by Rolex, Vacheron Constantin and, notably, Patek Philippe (which still uses it today).
In thanking his benefactors for the watch, Churchill wrote that it was a “superb gift” and that it would always remind him of their “beautiful country”. Judging by the immaculate condition of the Agassiz, however, he rarely wore it – preferring, as is well known, the 1890 Breguet 765 minute repeating, flyback chronograph he used for most of his life.