Rare Find: Titanic Victim’s Pocket Watch Hits Auction at $187K

Rare Find: Titanic Victim's Pocket Watch Hits Auction at $187K

For just $187,000, you could become the proud owner of a piece of history tied to the wealthiest Titanic victim. The 14-carat gold Waltham pocket watch that once belonged to business magnate John Jacob Astor IV is set to go under the hammer at Henry Aldridge & Son in Britain this weekend. This stunning timepiece, engraved with ‘JJA,’ was discovered when Astor’s body was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean a week after the tragic sinking of the Titanic. The starting bid for this haunting relic is £60,000, approximately $75,000, but experts anticipate it could fetch up to £150,000, equivalent to $187,320.

John Jacob Astor IV, a renowned real estate mogul famous for building the Astoria Hotel and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, gallantly helped his pregnant teenage wife onto a lifeboat before returning to the doomed liner to await the call for men to board. Astor, known as the richest passenger on the R.M.S. Titanic and one of the wealthiest individuals globally with a net worth of around $87 million back then (which would be worth billions today), was tragically lost in the maritime disaster at the age of 47.

The pocket watch, one of the personal effects used to identify Astor’s body, accompanied him in his final moments. Alongside the watch, he was also found adorned with a gold watch, gold and diamond cufflinks, and a three-stone diamond ring. Astor’s pockets contained $2,720 in cash, along with various valuable gold, silver, and franc pieces.

After being recovered, the watch underwent a complete restoration and was passed down to Astor’s son, adding a unique and poignant layer to the Titanic’s legacy. This historic timepiece holds significance as a crucial part of the Titanic narrative and a vital piece of horological history linked to the world’s most famous ship.

As the watch heads to auction, following displays at esteemed museums like the Mariners Museum, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and the National Geographic Exhibition, it joins a collection of Titanic artifacts hitting the market. Among the items recently auctioned was the iconic door from James Cameron’s ‘Titanic,’ fetching an impressive $718,750. The sale of these artifacts not only preserves the memory of this tragic event but also allows collectors and enthusiasts to own a tangible piece of the Titanic’s history.

The tale behind this pocket watch serves as a poignant reminder of the human stories intertwined with the Titanic tragedy, encapsulating the bravery, wealth, and loss that marked that fateful night in 1912. As bidders prepare to vie for this extraordinary relic, the auction presents an opportunity to own a part of a bygone era, where the legacy of the Titanic lives on through the artifacts that resurface from the depths of history.

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