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Watch From Titanic Sells for Nearly $1.5M

14-carat gold pocket watch
The 14-carat gold pocket watch once belonging to John Jacob Astor IV was sold at auction. | Image by Henry Aldridge & Sons Ltd.

The allure of the Titanic continues to captivate the world as another artifact from its voyage recently commanded an extraordinary price at a global auction.

On Saturday, a 14-carat gold pocket watch once belonging to John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest passenger aboard the ill-fated ship, sold for a staggering £1.175 million (approximately $1.466 million), according to the Henry Aldridge & Son Ltd.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, earlier this year, the infamous wooden “door” panel prop from the movie fetched $700,000 at auction. Made from balsa wood, the panel is based on the most famous complete piece of debris salvaged from the ship.

Astor perished along with over 1,500 others when the Titanic collided with an iceberg on April 14, 1912. The recovery of his possessions, including the now-iconic pocket watch adorned with his initials, symbolizes the tragedy and the continued fascination surrounding the ship’s demise.

Initially anticipated to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000 ($124,787 and $187,181), according to the auction house, bidding for Astor’s watch soared to unexpected heights. Ultimately, an anonymous buyer from the United States secured the timepiece for £900,000 ($1.123 million) before taxes and fees.

After its retrieval from Astor’s body, the watch underwent restoration. It was subsequently worn by his son Vincent, adding layers of familial and generational narrative to its storied past, according to Henry Aldridge & Son.

Accompanying the watch in the auction lot were additional mementos, including a baptism certificate belonging to Astor’s secretary and a letter from Astor’s second wife — both of whom survived the Titanic disaster. These items, along with a photograph of Astor’s son Vincent, offer glimpses into the personal lives and connections intertwined with the larger tragedy of the Titanic, furthering the watch’s value.

Astor’s entrepreneurial endeavors and social standing solidified his place in history. According to the Museum of the City of New York, he initially amassed his wealth through global trade, but by the 1830s, he transitioned solely into the realms of real estate development and investing, making Astor “one of the richest, if not the richest, man in America at the time of his death.”

Commenting on the high prices of Titanic memorabilia, auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said, “They reflect not only the importance of the artefacts themselves and their rarity, but they also show the enduring appeal and fascination with the Titanic story. 112 years later, we are still talking about the ship and the passengers and the crew. The thing with the Titanic story, it’s effectively a large ship hits an iceberg with a tragic loss of life, but more importantly is 2,200 stories. 2,200 subplots, every man, woman, and child had a story to tell, and then the memorabilia tells those stories today.”

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