What’s It Worth? Fancy Dials For Fancy Men

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At the turn of the 20th century, it was in fashion for men to wear pocketwatches that, when opened, revealed a fancy dial that often depicted flowers and/or soft hues of pink and powder blue.

These are often quite scarce. While today this might seem feminine, it was all the rage back then. These dials were made by a number of companies, and were very brittle; hence many haven’t survived intact. Fancy dials made by O’Hare that survived without cracks or chips are highly sought after. The more elaborate the art and color, the more valuable the watch. Simple dials can add $35-$50 to a watch’s value, but more intricate, elaborate dials, like a Civil War scene or baseball motif, can add thousands.

Please be aware that many times, fancy dials have been faked or overpainted – and overpainting is not the same as baked enamel or porcelain dials. From upper left, the values of the watches are as follows:

The Masonic dial Elgin is only worth about $50, as it was overpainted.

The pink Waltham adds $300 to the value of the watch, because there are no hairline cracks or chips and it has an inlaid faux ruby in the center.

The Omega playing cards watch was likely done recently and overpainted, so it has very little value.

Below left, The Civil War-era key-wind timepiece with cherubs or putti is a repeater watch valued at over $3,000.

The heavy Howard 18kt gold fancy dial is the rarest – since Howard dials were rarely fancy – and is valued at $4,000-$7,000.

Comments, questions or suggestions for this column, please send to jeffreyphess@aol.com.

St. Petersburg 1131 4th St. N, St. Petersburg FL 33701.

Ph: 727.896.0622


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