While most watch collectors know that repeaters are collectible, not all repeaters are the same. This type of watch tells time with a series of bells or gongs, so that you can know the time without looking at your watch. This was especially handy when one would travel at night by stagecoach or when light was scarce. Repeaters have a slide or push button on the side that you engage, which makes the watch gong.
The value depends on the maker, the case material and the amount of gongs. For example, a cheap common Swiss ¼ hour repeater (only tells time within ¼ hour) made of gunmetal or silver could be worth as little as $300-$500 if it’s made by a lesser-known manufacturer. Conversely, an 18K gold, minute repeater by Patek Philippe starts at $7,000 and can be worth $100,000 or more if it has other complexities.
The subject of today’s article is extremely rare – a Golay Fils Grande Sonnerie repetition repeater and clockwatch with grand and petite Sonnerie striking watch, with tandem winding and two 18K gold barrels made in the 1880s. It is a 20 ligne movement and has a huge 54mm case. Not only does it strike the ¼ hour, but also upon sliding, a small lever works as a clockwatch gonging off the hours and quarter hours in the same manner that a wall clock would. It has a gold train (all wheels in gold) and two main spring barrels, and is one of the more complicated watches we have seen in the past calendar year. We calculate that it has roughly 26-31 jewels and weighs a whopping 126 grams.
The dial (face) is important on this watch because the enamel dial has no cracks or hairline fractures whatsoever. We bought it from one of our clients who is a coin dealer in California, and were able to help him purchase it from his client after he sent us a series of photos. We bought it for $10,000. Our auction estimate is $15,000-$20,000, with a reserve of under $12,000.
Whether you are a jeweler, dealer, collector or private citizen, we want to bid on your vintage repeater watch.