Friday, August 26, 2016

The Barney Oldfield Wristwatch...Bigger Than A Cylinder Head!?

Barney Oldfield needs no introduction. 
The man who ran old 999, set records almost every weekend, it seems, and was never without his trusty stogie, while racing or relaxing.
But whilst perusing the old newspapers of the day, I came across this picture, 

wherein Mr. Oldfield is showing off a gift "wristwatch", which judging from the size of it, is the forerunner to the largest Panerai watch built, or a pocket watch affixed to his wrist.

It turns out this gift turned up for auction a few years ago. It's a beauty, and went for a modest $23,000 dollars. It was a pocket watch after all, in 18kt gold, with a stunning design.

C. Four-body, "demi-bassine", solid, polished, monogrammed case back, hinged gold cuvette with inscription: “Barney Oldfield by David G. Joyce – May 30th 1916”. D. White enamel with painted Arabic numerals, outer minute and outermost chronograph divisions, sunk subsidiary dials for the seconds and the 30-minute register. Gold “Louis XVI" hands. M. Cal. 17''', maillechort, “fausses-côtes” decoration, 39 jewels, straight line counterpoised lever escapement, cut bimetallic compensation balance, blued steel Breguet balance spring, “swan-neck” micrometer regulator, visible chronograph works, repeating on gongs by activating slide on the band. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 46 mm.Patek Philippe & Cie, Genève, No. 157153, case No. 270682. Made circa 1915 for Spaulding & Co., Chicago and presented to Barney Oldfield in 1916. Very fine, keyless, minute-repeating, 18K yellow gold pocket watch with split-seconds chronograph and register.

Patek's are top-shelf, unique watches, and this gift was no simple door prize. I have a feeling that the benefactor might have made a dollar or two betting on the outcome of a couple of Barney's races.

Barney Oldfield was one of a kind; a racer, Broadway designer, a movie cameo man, and one lucky guy who could flaunt a gold watch the size of a piston!