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12th Jul 2024

Antiques Roadshow guest refuses to sell gold watch after expert issues warning over valuation

Ryan Price

He took the expert by surprise.

An Antiques Roadshow guest was taken aback when the show’s expert Richard Price delivered a warning to them over the valuation of their item.

In a recent episode, the Antiques Roadshow team travelled to the Windermere Jetty Museum in the Lake District, where a guest presented Price with a beautiful looking gold watch.

“Well a very, very beautiful, engraved watch on both sides so it’s what we call a hunting case watch,” Price began. “If it’s got a very beautiful dial as well, which it has, look at that lovely silver dial, I can say pretty categorically that it is for the Spanish market.”

The expert then asked the guest and their partner how they came across the shiny timepiece.

“It was a gift by a Spanish lady, a friend to the family,” she explained. “One day she said, ‘I got no one to leave it to. You have it.”

Richard replied: “Well, what a lucky couple you are. Absolutely typical for the Spanish market, beautiful dials, it’s 18 karat gold, dating from the 1860s. Now, do you remember anything special about this watch when it was given to you?”

The guest revealed that the previous owner “demonstrated there was a chime” but that he wasn’t entirely sure what the sound meant and whether the watch would be able to chime again.

(BBC/Screenshot)

Richard cut in: “Firstly, it’s signed by a Swiss mechanical Lucien Dubois and it has three squares – one is to set the hands and then it has the normal waiting in the direction of the arrow and then it has a third winding square which will be for an independent seconds.”

While many of us won’t know what any of this means, it all sounds pretty fancy and lucrative.

“The top of this watch has a knurled pendant as if it was a keyless waiting watch but we know that it’s key wound, so that serves another function,” Price continued.

“A very very clever horologist by the name of Joseph Barolos, who worked in London devised a form of quarter repeating, which means that the watch will strike the hours and the quarters, turning it to the left to do the hours, releasing it, and turning it to the right to do the quarters.

“That is not functioning and all that very complex repeat work will be under the dial and we cannot see if it’s there. The very fact that you recall chiming in other words, some sort of repetition suggests to me almost certainly this watch had and might still have that work there.”

(BBC/Screenshot)

At this point, the guest was visibly encouraged and starting to get excited about the prospect of making a small fortune on the piece.

However, the expert went on to deliver a warning as he shared the valuation for the unusual treasure.

Price explained that the true value of the item depended entirely on whether the watch’s “quarter repeating” function was still in working order.

“If this is Joseph Barolos’ patent. We’re talking about a very rare thing,” he declared. “If it’s there, I’m going to quote you £7,000 to £10,000. If it’s not, we’d be looking at £2,500 to £3,000 minimum right. So either way, lovely gift.”

The owner, who now seemed stunned, replied: “Oh yeah. And it’s not for sale.”

Price joked: “That’s what you all say.”

If you want to watch the dramatic back and forth unfold, you can view the episode on BBC iPlayer.