It's Time for a Change: Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments at Skinner

Skinner’s Clocks, Watches, and Scientific Instruments auction totaled nearly 1.1M, including buyer’s premium. It consisted of just under 400 lots in a wide variety of categories – including timekeepers of all types, early optical objects, and mechanical devices. The sale was offered in Skinner’s online format and was open for bidding over nine days, ending on the evening of April 14th. The auction attracted significant numbers of returning and new to Skinner bidders and saw a 40% increase in bidder participation. Those who competed did so enthusiastically, driving more than half of the lots in the sale to prices above their high estimates, and a 94% sold percentage by lot.

With such a variety of genres and high levels of participation, there were strong prices across the board.  

Single-owner Rolex Daytona Reference 6239 “Exotic” Dial Wristwatch, sold for: $200,000

Wristwatches were a particular strength, and most notable among them was a single owner Rolex 6239 “Paul Newman” Daytona (Lot 1149), which sold for $200,000, and led the sale overall. It was consigned by a gentleman in the Northeast who purchased in the early ’70s because he was a self-described “car guy,” and wanted a chronograph – traditionally used for timing lap speeds. He enjoyed it for a few years and then stashed it away, out of sight and mostly out of mind, for decades. “Condition, condition, and condition” are the three most important factors that set watches apart from one another. This example’s condition was exceptional, appearing to have never been opened, let alone serviced or repaired – there were no tell-tale watchmaker’s marks on the interior case back. There were other highlights in the wristwatch category as well, which totaled over $500,000, including a Rolex, the 1958 “James Bond” Submariner reference 5508, a desirable example which brought $53,125.

Monumental Carved English Oak Quarter-chiming, Musical, Triple Calendar Hall Clock, The Clement Clock, sold for: $100,000

Strength was evident in the market for rare and unusual clocks and timepieces. Leading the clock category was a Monumental Carved English Hall Clock known as the “Clement” clock, which sold for $100,000 with the funds earmarked to benefit the Vermont Historical Society. The clock, standing an impressive 12-feet in height, was named for the prominent Vermonter Percival W. Clement, who admired and purchased it around 1914 in England. Its long history involves a World War I shipping delay, and subsequent installations in the Vermont Governor’s chambers, the Vermont State House, and three different locations within the Capitol complex in Montpelier. The clock has been the object of much scholarship and study over the years. A Long Case clock by Thomas Earnshaw of London, with a beautiful flame mahogany case, was the only English clock in a collection of over fifty of American clocks and was chased to $16,250. That collection, from a Western Massachusetts consignor, brought double its pre-sale estimate. Two pieces from a collection consigned by The Norfolk [Virginia] Southern Railway that took off were two E. Howard & Co. Astronomical Regulators: A rare No. 22 (Lot 1182) and the No. 25 (Lot 1178), both exceeding their high estimates and proving that there is still strength in the select market for precision timekeepers.

The fourth and final part of the Robert Miller Collection of Pennsylvania surveying instruments was offered, and attracted competitive bidding. Lot 1313A from a New York consignor was an unusual 18th century surveyor’s compass, and it surprised even Department Director Jonathan Dowling
when it brought $11,875 against its $700-900 estimate.

Unusual Late 18th Century Surveyor’s Compass and Three Benjamin Banneker Reference Books, sold for: $11,875

Skinner has established trustworthiness over decades, and buyers know that they can bid with high confidence on material of all kinds, even when they can’t inspect that material themselves. We look forward to the next sale scheduled for the fall, and welcome consignments and inquiries at  

About Skinner

Skinner attracts top consignments and commands record-breaking prices in the international auction marketplace. With renowned expertise and extraordinary service, Skinner is the place for buyers, sellers and the passionately curious. Skinner appraisers are familiar faces on PBS’s 17-time Emmy Award-nominated ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. Visit us in Boston, Marlborough, New York, Maine or Florida, or online at

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