A watch that belonged to Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson and set the pace of one of history’s greatest naval battles is set to be auctioned by Sotheby’s next month.
Now mounted in a gilt-brass carriage clock case, the pocket watch is thought to be the timepiece carried by the Admiral during the Battle of Trafalgar. Offered with an estimate of £250,000 – 450,000, the watch will feature at Sotheby’s Treasures sale on 4 July.
Nelson is thought to have acquired this Emery pocket watch or was given it by an admirer, following his triumph at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. One of the 19 relics returned to Nelson’s mistress, Emma, Lady Hamilton, following his death, the watch was inherited by the Admiral’s brother, Willliam, 1st Earl Nelson and subsequently passed to his sole surviving child, Charlotte.
It is believed she arranged for the watch to be mounted in its current form as a carriage clock, presumably so it could be better admired and treasured as her illustrious uncle’s most precious possession.
Excluded from the group of precious relics, including the Admiral’s orders and decorations that were offered for sale in July 1895 and subsequently acquired for the nation by the British government, the watch is one of only a small handful of Nelson’s most prized possessions known to have survived and is still in private hands.
Chairman of Sotheby’s international watch division, Daryn Schnipper said: “The perfect timing of the British assault at the Battle of Trafalgar was key in the historic victory of the Royal Navy so to be able to offer for sale the watch that Nelson probably used to establish the timing for this decisive battle is a real privilege.”