Published: September 24, 2015
LONDON — On September 22 at Sotheby’s, a unique Victory Watch commissioned for the great Sir Winston Churchill sold for $738,000, eight times the low estimate. It is one of four individual watches created for the Allied leaders after World War II — the others presented to Charles de Gaulle, Joseph Stalin and Harry Truman. Today, 70 years after the end of World War II and 50 years after the death of one Britain’s greatest leaders, this watch is more than an exquisite masterpiece of horology, it is both an historical testimony to leadership and a symbol of courage.
The watch features a distinctive enamel dial showing St George slaying the dragon, with a trident as the hour hand. As a symbol of the victory of good over evil, of brightness over darkness, as though Churchill has been reimagined as Britain’s modern day saint. ‘V’ for Victory is proudly engraved on the back of case together with a personalized dedication: “1939 – Prime Minister Winston Spencer Churchill – 1945.”
Commissioned by a group of prominent Swiss citizens in acknowledgement of Churchill’s strength and leadership during World War II, the watch was much treasured by Churchill. On receiving the watch in 1946, he wrote to thank the group for their “superb gift,.” saying it would always remind him of their “beautiful country” and “friendly feelings.”
This timepiece was designed by the leading watch maker Louis Cottier in collaboration with the manufacturer Agassiz and Co. Cottier invented the intricate the “Heure Universelle” (World Time) mechanism and this vintage piece, in beautiful condition, is a rare example of this type. Additionally, Cottier made the same complication for some of the most celebrated manufacturers, such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin.
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