Auction Watch: J.P. Morgan Jr’s Charles Frodsham Split-Seconds Chronograph with Tourbillon

The Morgan pocket watch.

A noted collector of art, objects, and also timepieces – he famously once owned the world’s most complicated watch that is now lost – banker J.P. Morgan was a frequent client of Charles Frodsham, having no doubt inherited the inclination from his father, also a client of the English watchmaker.

Once preeminent globally, particularly in the late decades of the 19th century when Morgan was active, Charles Frodsham is perhaps most famous for supplying top-of-the-line pocket watches to Morgan that he then gifted to friends and partners of his eponymous bank.

Sometimes known as “Morgan caliper” watches, these watches were amongst the most expensive watches in the world at the time. Some two dozen of these presentation watches are known – and 11 have been sold publicly – with all being identical in combining a minute repeater with split-second chronograph and tourbillon. Perhaps the most important of these watches is the one that will soon go on the block at Sotheby’s in New York on December 15 at 10:00 am EST.

The watch once owned by J.P. Morgan Jr., bearing the serial number “010’330”

The ebauche was probably produced by Nicole Nielsen

The tourbillon with a Nicole Nielsen Type 2 cage

Being offered by the estate of Alexandra McCain Morgan, who’s perhaps better known as the older sister of the late Senator John McCain. The watch was originally purchased by J.P. Morgan Jr. in 1933 – the lot is accompanied by a copy of the original invoice.

The watch on sale is the second from the top in the original invoice

“According to the family legend, the watch was discovered upon J.P. Morgan Jr’s passing and inherited by his son”, explains Sotheby’s in the catalogue note, referring to Henry Sturgis Morgan, who was a founding partner of Morgan Stanley. And then it was passed on to Henry Sturgis Morgan Jr., a Rear Admiral in the US Navy and McCain Morgan’s husband.

Like the other Morgan presentation watches, this is a double complication, comprising a minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph with 60-minute counter, along with a tourbillon regulator. But unlike the other presentation watches that were engraved with the recipient’s name, this was left untouched until the name of Rear Admiral Henry Sturgis Morgan Jr was engraved, indicating the Morgan family intended to keep it.

Slated to be sold at the auction on December 15 starting at 10:00 am EST, the Morgan watch has an estimate of US$125,000-225,000. It’s lot 85 in the sale, with details and online bidding available on


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Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces the Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano

In burgundy and pink gold.

Announced as a prelude to the 90th anniversary of its iconic reversible wristwatch, the Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano is the final debut from Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) for 2020. Cleverly constructed to utilise the twin faces of the watch for two time zones, the Tribute Duoface was already launched earlier in the year in a similar guise, with a dark blue dial. Now it returns with a pleasing metallic-burgundy dial that’s once again equipped with a strap made by Argentinian polo-boot maker Casa Fagliano – in a 190-piece limited edition that’ll be available only at JLC boutiques.

Initial thoughts

Rendered in a glossy, metallic burgundy, the dial of the new Reverso is striking. It suits the colour of the pink-gold case well, while also giving a more vibrant look to a watch that is usually dressed in more sedate colours.

The Tribute Duoface feels a little bit thick for an elegant watch, something that’s accented by the curve of the back, a feature devised to help it sit better on the wrist. Also at odds with the style of the watch is the strap. Robustly made of canvas with leather ends, the strap feels more suited to something far more sporty.

Nonetheless the Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano is still an attractive watch. And it’s not only the look that appeals, but also the movement within. Although the cal. 854A/2 is several decades old – the original cal. 854 was unveiled in 1994 with the first-generation Reverso Duo – it remains simple, sensible, and smart in how it makes full use of the Reverso’s swivelling case.

Priced at about US$22,000, the Duoface is fair value. It isn’t quite a mechanical value proposition, which was JLC’s historical specialty, but it is reasonable.

Burgundy and white

The two faces of the watch are opposites in hue and finish, but both are done in a style that suits the Art Deco aesthetics of the Reverso case well. The front dial is a rich red that’s been executed in a metallic finish with radial brushing, as well as a clear, glossy lacquer that gives it a surprising sheen.

But the reverse is a sedate silvery white with clean, recessed sub-dials surrounded by clous de Paris, or hobnail, guilloche, that’s matched with rose-gold plated hands and indices.

The case is a good size from the front, at 28.3 mm wide and 47 mm in length. Though not thick in absolute terms, the 10.3 mm height takes away slightly from the sleek simplicity of the Reverso case.

It’s matched with a strap made in Argentina by Casa Fagliano. A specialist in polo boots, the firm produced the strap in exactly the same combination of materials as a boot. It’s canvas on top, with cordovan for the ends, and the lining in leather – with all of it held together by hand stitching.

Key Facts and Price

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano
Ref. Q398256J

Diameter: 47 mm by 28.3 mm
Height: 10.3 mm
Material: 18k pink gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 854A/2
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds on front; second time zone with day and night indicator on reverse
Winding: Hand wind
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Cordovan and canvas with pin buckle

Availability: At Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques only
Price: US$23,900; or 34,900 Singapore dollars

For more, visit


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