Auction News: WWI Hero’s Cartier Tonneau Watch Goes Under the Hammer

A WWI hero’s extraordinary 107-year-old Cartier Tonneau watch could fetch £10,000 at auction.

Cartier Tonneau

A.D.Thomson WW1 gold Cartier watch in Fellows Auctioneers February 2021 saleOne of Cartier’s oldest ever wristwatches which belonged to a WWI hero is set to fetch £10,000 at Fellows Auctioneers in February. Cartier’s design, named Tonneau due to its barrel shape, was the second ever wristwatch model created by Louis Cartier. The model was launched in 1906 and this particular watch was originally sold by the French company’s London store in October 1914. The timepiece features a back engraving to a decorated First World War British soldier. The watch is Lot 48 in Fellows’ Luxury Watch Sale which takes place on Monday 15th February. With an estimate of £6,000 – £8,000, it is likely to fetch in excess of £10,000 including fees.

WWI Engraved Caseback

A.D.Thomson WW1 gold Cartier watch in Fellows Auctioneers February 2021 sale

The Tonneau’s engraving reads “A.D. Thomson, 152 Inf Bde., 51st High Div., 1/5/15”. The 51st Highland Division fought on the Western Front in France from 1915 – 1918. The Division was rushed to the Western Front in May 1915, the same month that A.D. Thomson received the watch. Thomson served as captain in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the war. He was gifted the Cartier watch from the military. Furthermore, it is likely that it was gifted to him before he was sent out to fight on the Western Front. Additionally, an authentication document from Cartier clarifies that the watch was sold by Cartier, London, in October 1914.


A.D.Thomson WW1 medalsMany years later in 1994, the Cartier watch was purchased for £1,000 by its current owner from the Thomson family. Subsequently, the Cartier has been worn only twice in the 27 years since it was purchased, at two weddings. After sitting in a drawer and gathering dust for nearly 30 years, the watch is being sold at Fellows Auctioneers. Furthermore, it is being sold alongside a group of eight prestigious medals belonging to Thomson and what is believed to be Thomson’s father. These were also passed across to the current owner and include honours from the Great War and the late 19th century. Moreover, an authentication document from Cartier and a later watch box is also included with the lot.

18ct Yellow Gold Case, Dial, Strap

A.D.Thomson WW1 gold Cartier watch in Fellows Auctioneers February 2021 saleFirstly, sporting a beautiful 18ct yellow gold case, the Tonneau Curvex Cartier watch has a manual wind movement. Secondly, it features a silvered dial with Roman numeral hour markers. Also the watch is fitted with an unsigned brown leather strap with an 18ct yellow gold deployant clasp. Measuring 21mm, the watch still works and is in a remarkably good condition for its age.

Fellows Watch Auction

Michael Jagiela, Senior Specialist from the Watch Department at Fellows Auctioneers, said: “Our first Luxury Watch Sale of 2021 is our biggest ever in terms of value. This Cartier is a standout item with a phenomenal back story which should entice watch collectors and history enthusiasts alike. The Cartier Tonneau is one of the earliest wristwatches that Cartier ever produced and it’s incredibly rare to see one so old and in such good condition. The story of the watch being sold in 1914 and belonging to such a decorated war hero such as Thomson only adds to the value of the item. I imagine this watch will not be short of bids, and the item can be viewed via our website now ahead of the auction on 15th February.”

Auction Details and How To Bid

The Luxury Watch Sale is on February 15th. The auction will take place as a live, behind-closed-doors sale at Fellows’ Birmingham Jewellery Quarter saleroom. Customers are able to book virtual viewings on the watch with Fellows.

Click here to view the WWI Cartier Tonneau in the auction. View the catalogue for the Luxury Watch Sale here.

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