James Ward Packard (1918)

This keyless pocket watch with striking mechanism in 20K gold, fitted with a double gear train and a Guillaume balance, represents a milestone in the history of fine watchmaking. It comprises a repetition of quarters and half-quarters with grande and petite sonnerie, as well as a mono-totalizer chronograph.
It was acquired in 1919 by the founder of the Packard Motor Company, James Ward Packard.

James Ward Packard was one of the most far-sighted and discerning collectors of the early 20th century. He took immense pleasure in ordering watches from the major watchmakers, each time setting them ever more difficult challenges.

The unconventional yet unapologetic simplicity of the design of this pocket watch with striking mechanism conceals an original and complex movement made with the finest materials and an extraordinary level of attention to detail.

The finely engraved heavy case bearing the initials "JWP" in blue champlevé enamel is crafted from 20K gold instead of the usual 18K. The crystal, cut from a piece of rock crystal, is of perfect clarity. The use of this material —which is extremely difficult to fashion— attests to the quality of construction and the understated grandeur of the watch. The enamel dial with Roman numerals is evidently designed to be clearly readable. It displays the functions of a chronograph with 30-minute totalizer, controlled by a co-axial push-piece housed in the winding crown. This is the only known watch model with striking mechanism that combines a chronograph and a repetition of quarters and half-quarters with grande and petite sonnerie. The high precision movement comprises 43 jewels and an amagnetic Guillaume balance, with a thermal coefficient close to zero. As a result it is not affected by temperature variations. It is fitted with two barrels: one for the gear train of the watch, and a second for the additional energy necessary to make the striking mechanism work. In grande sonnerie mode the watch strikes the hours and quarters on two gongs, every quarter of an hour. In petite sonnerie mode it strikes the hours only on the hour and the quarters (and not the hours) every quarter of an hour. The repetition of quarters and half-quarters is a rare configuration: when the repeater is activated, an additional chime strikes au passage or after each period of 7½ minutes that has elapsed since the last quarter of an hour. Very few complicated watches are also high-precision chronometers, because the additional functions compromise accuracy. That is why this watch represented a major challenge for the watchmakers who had to integrate all the functions requested by James Ward Packard while at the same time creating an extremely precise model.

It was auctioned in New York in June 2011 for $1.8 million.

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