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What costs more… the Rolex or the engraving?

engraved rolex submariner

At Engravers Guild, we like to think we’re a modest bunch. But, that said, we do feel rather self-satisfied when such esteemed news outlets like The Daily Telegraph are still catching up with us.

Followers of this blog will not have been able to overlook our continual coverage of prized auction lots… often defined by their engraving.

A watch gifted by Steve McQueen and another gifted by Elvis Presley have both featured on our web pages, and been a showpiece for us in the value that an engraving can bestow.

And just this week we noted that the Tele has just caught up with our understanding, writing a feature using our same examples.

Still, to give credit where credit’s due, the venerable newspaper has brought our attention to something that we were previously not aware.

Namely, Steve McQueen was such a prolific giver of Rolex wristwatches that there is another coming under the hammer this year in the autumn.

The esteemed auction house, Philips in Geneva, has on their books a Rolex Submariner that was given by the Hollywood star to his stuntman, Loren James.

A nice story. But where the watch really comes to life is in the engraved message on the back.

Inscribed into the reverse of the timepiece are the words: “Loren the best damn stuntsman in the world, Steve”.

The writer of the Telegraph article notes that any watch claiming an association with Steve McQueen it likely to enjoy a hefty uplift… but with such evidence of the provenance like this, the price is likely to “go into orbit”.

With a 600,000 USD suggested sale price, the cost is already eye-watering to most.

But, by the standard for such pieces, some believe that represents a bargain.

Time will tell just how much the market really thinks it’s worth. But, if it might be slightly out of your range, do think about one of our beautifully engraved gifts as an alternative.

An engraved gift… fit for a Prince

Prince Harry engraved gift

It wasn’t just Meghan’s “Big Day”, but a Big Day for the world, as an estimated 2 billion people watched some of the ceremony and 19 million Brits followed the whole thing.

And no wedding would be complete without the celebrity guest list.

Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, the Beckhams, Elton John and almost the whole cast of Suits were there to witness the event and bask in their reflected glory.

However, notable for their absence were the politicians.

No foreign dignitaries, Parliamentarians, or even Barack Obama made the guest list, there being a serving blacklist of anyone deemed of political persuasion.

While this kept Donald Trump and Co. off UK shores, it didn’t stop them having some part to play in proceedings, albeit small.

Because while they may not have been there in person, there was nothing stopping them from contributing a wedding gift… often announced to the world via Twitter.

In keeping with the request from the happy couple, most gifts took the form of a donation to a chosen charity.

The Australian Prime Minister made a donation to the Invictus Games, which will be hosted down under later this year. Meanwhile Justin Trudeau even pledged $50,000 to a Canadian cause.

The French, though, like to do things their own way… and a way that we here approve of at Engravers Guild.

For the President from Paris, M Emmanuel Macron, followed his country’s own tradition when it comes to Royal weddings, gifting a personalised piece from the ST Dupont brand.

The gift, from the 007 Collection, features a pen and lighter.

Apparently this custom of giving a bespoke gift goes back to the time when the Queen married Prince Philip, with the couple receiving a personalised travel case from the French Republic.

And, more recently, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge two engraved cases, containing pens and a lighter, for their nuptials.

While many of our readers may not have a French President on their invite list, look no further if you are still secretly seeking to receive a pen and lighter to commemorate your betrothal…

Our range of personalised lighters brings the very best of the most famous lighter brands together, and our pens are exquisitely made by Clewley in Birmingham.

…then who can say that your Big Day doesn’t match up to that of Harry and Meghan.

Wenger receives engraved gift from Fergie

As the 2017-18 football season draws to a close, so also does Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal Football Club.

The longest-standing manager in the Premier League, he took over at the North London club in 1996 and led the team to ten major trophies, including seven FA Cups.

Bringing together top talent (often from France), new training regimes, diet programmes and mind coaching, he pioneered a new style of football in England, and won a slew of trophies for the Gunners.

The most successful manager in Arsenal history, his 2004 side was known as The Invincibles for never losing a game, and created new records in the number of games going unbeaten.

But, as every protagonist knows, they are often measured in comparison to their greatest antagonist. And, for Arsene Wenger, it was most definitely Sir Alex Ferguson.

Managing to top two teams in the Premier League respectively, the two managers were each others’ greatest adversaries and were known for taking aim at the other in match interviews.

With Sir Alex advising Arsene to stick to Japanese football (a country which he had previously managed in) and the Frenchman exclaiming that he will “never speak about that man again”, relations between the two were frosty at best.

However, with time comes understanding. And as Mr Wenger made his last visit to Old Trafford, it was Sir Alex who was there to present the manager with a farewell gift.

Before the game, an extremely large commemorative trophy was presented to Arsene Wenger.

As per all the best gifts, on it was engraved: “Presented to Arsene Wenger by Sir Alex Ferguson CBE and Jose Mourinho, on behalf of Manchester United Football Club in recognition of his services and achievements at Arsenal Football Club. 1996 to 2018.”

It even changed hands with a smile and a nod between the two men.

So there you have it. If you want to build bridges and create a sense of nostalgia, look no further than a personalised pocket watch, engraved cufflinks or custom hip flask… and you can make your own history too.

Meghan’s engraved gift to… Meghan

meghan markle's personalised jewellery

It’s Royal wedding season and all eyes are on the bride-to-be, speculating on what style she’ll opt for and what she might wear.

To glimpse into the future, therefore, we have to look back on her past for any clues about her sartorial preferences.

And one story in particular caught the attention of us here at Engravers Guild.

When is comes to her accessories, Meghan seems to like her things personalised.

One example is when she would wear her own’s family’s jewellery on the show “Suits”. Meghan’s character, Rachel Zane, was developed to come across less as a fashionista and more with timeless elegance, and so she wore her own signet ring.

The beauty of this, also, is that Meghan’s christened first name is actually Rachel, and the signet ring was already engraved with her initial.

Another demonstration of her penchant for personalisation is in her watch.

When “Suits” was commissioned for a third season, Meghan has told of how “it felt like such a milestone – I totally splurged”.

Her gift of choice for herself was a Cartier Tank Francais timepiece, coming in at a cool £5,000.

On the back, the princess to be had engraved “To M.M. / From M.M.”

As we have always said on this blog, the beauty of an engraving is that is lasts forever – it is time immemorial. Meghan agrees, and she even went on to say, “That’s what makes pieces special, the connection you have to them”.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

And so, true to this sentiment, Meghan has said that she wants to give the Cartier with the inscription to her daughter one day.

Should any of our readers be looking for a timepiece for themselves – perhaps a personalised pocket watch – then go that little extra with a bespoke engraving.

Make the engraving witty, or memorable, or meaningful… and that way, you are creating the beginning of a story that not only you have a connection with, but also future owners of the piece.

Diplomacy by personalised gifts

Trump and macron personalised gifts

Today we live in a world where increasingly we talk of hard power – the kind that comes with weapons, bombs and military force.

Russia, North Korea, China, Syria, even America… are all posturing about how ‘might’ wins the fight.

But that it not to say that soft power has no place.

International bragging rights aren’t forged just on the size of missiles in an arsenal, but also the implicit messages in communication.

Never is this more pronounced than when a state visit is held, and next week President Donald Trump has the pleasure of hosting President Emmanuel Macron.

As ever, the details of the gifts have been released ahead of time… a precursor, as it were, to the the tone that the two leaders want to bring to the occasion.

And, also, as ever, personalised gifts feature highly on the packing lists.

For M. Macron, the Donald has prepared two gifts.

The first is a framed section of upholstery from a chair in the White House. The chair features a golden eagle – a symbol of America – sitting proudly and eminently upon the backrest of the furniture.

And, to complement this, a silver Tiffany bowl is being presented with the Presidential seal engraved on the side and the Donald’s and Melania’s signatures.

Any guesses for the sentiment behind the Trumps’ gifts?

Perhaps that America is strong again, and that Donald Trump is the boss. He’s the one who hires and fires.

President Macron, though, might be just as expressive with his choice of gift.

As Mr Trump pulls the USA out of the momentous Paris Climate Agreement (something which Emmanuel Macron has oft criticised), the French President has chosen to gift a sapling tree.

The tree is a European sessile oak which comes from a World War I battlefield in France where many US soldiers lost their lives.

Any guesses for the sentiment behind this gift?

Perhaps… that if the world fails to protect the environment, then lives will be lost.

This, anyhow, is our interpretation of the meaning behind the personalised gifts. Ultimately, the beauty of an engraved gift it how it is understood between the giver and the recipient.

So should you be needing to exert any of your own ‘soft power’, look at our personalised cufflinks, our engraved hip flasks and our special pocket watches to communicate your own special sentiment,

A £1million engraving

engraved faberge flower

At Engravers Guild of London we cannot help but love that most quaint of British institutions… the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

Launched 40 years ago it is still going strong, with the format continuing to be simple yet addictive.

Whether old or young, a hipster or a suit, a northerner or southerner, once you’ve seen the item to be valued, you are powerless to change the channel.

We all wait for that killer item which exceeds all expectations, and the look on the owner’s face when they realise they’ve been sitting on a Rembrandt or some such.

Most of the programme may be about valuing £10 porcelain sets and £15 dolls, but it makes the viewing no less compulsive in waiting for a long lost Crown Jewel.

And after years of waiting, hoping, expecting… the time finally came.

This weekend saw the Big Kahuna come out to play.

In the world of antiques we would profess to be no experts whatsoever, but even our ears prick to the mention of the most famous of famous artisans… Faberge.

So we knew we were in for something big. And we were not wrong.

Brought in this week for a valuation was a fine ornament in the form of a pear blossom flower, engraved with the inscription “QOWH South Africa 1900”.

It was a piece commissioned for the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars in 1904 by the Countess of Dudley, wife to the second in command of the regiment.

The regiment was made up of volunteers and Lady Dudley gave each one a pear blossom when they were fighting in the Boer War to remind them of their home county, where the pear blossom is their emblem.

The ornament has stayed with the regiment ever since. And today, it is valued at over… £1 million.

The regiment, though, says they will not sell it. It is a part of their history, their story, and to them it is priceless.

…such is the value of personalised cufflinks, engraved hip flasks and other personalised gifts. May the regiment go on enjoying the piece for many more years to come.

“Nothing Is Impossible” to engrave

micro engraving on razor

At Engravers Guild of London, we like to think that we can engrave almost anything – whatever artwork, design or pattern.

However, that is perhaps not entirely accurate.

If, for example, we were asked to engrave a message on the thin edge of a razor blade (as in, the sharp tip of a razor blade)… then we would probably say it could not be done. We may even say that it would be impossible.

But that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

For, Graham Short, an engraver from Birmingham, has done just that.

He is a specialist micro engraver, who we have actually written about before. He created a series of engravings on the new £5 notes with the Jane Austen design.

A handful of these were put in to general circulation and were sold for tens of thousands of pounds by people with good enough eyesight to spot the tiny impressions.

Before then, though, Mr Short honed his skills in making engravings that were smaller and smaller and smaller, with the prized inscription being on the edge of a Wilkinson’s Sword razor blade.

The letters were so small that they could not be read with the naked eye, and only with a medical microscope of 400 times magnification. The whole area is less than a tenth of a millimetre.

The message that was engraved was very apt: “Nothing Is Impossible“.

But that is not to say that “Everything Is Easy”. Certainly not. Personalising something that small takes incredible application, resolve and focus.

Graham Short took 150 attempts to complete the piece over the course of seven months.

The precision of the work meant that he could only operate between the hours of 12-5am when vibrations in the ground are at their lowest.

Before each session he has to meditate for 90 minutes to bring his body to total stillness, and then would listen to his heart through a stethoscope during so that he could make each engraving stroke between beats.

So unique is the ability that he has to engrave at this size, the standard razor blade is now valued at about £50,000.

If your budget does not stretch that far, but you still want a beautifully engraved item, then perhaps think instead of our personalised pocket watches and other gifts.

“A Brief History Of Time” engraved forever

stephen hawking space

It is with sadness that we here at Engravers Guild of London mourn the passing of one of history’s greatest scientists, Stephen Hawking.

The theoretical physicist died last week at his home in Cambridge after life living with ALS. Diagnosed with the disease at 21 years of age, he was expected to live just a couple of years but went on to reach the grand age of 76.

Already regarded as a legend within the field of cosmology, he first came to the world’s attention in 1974 with the publication of his theory on black hole radiation in the journal ‘Nature’.

It went on to become one of the foundation theories in astro physics and a defining concept to create a complete understanding of the universe, combining gravity with quantum mechanics.

His original theory propelled his career and opened opportunities that he followed throughout his life.

It is fitting, therefore, that it is understood that Stephen Hawking’s wish was for his famous equation to be engraved on his tombstone.

He, like Engravers Guild, held the belief that there is no better way to enshrine a moment in time that to capture it forever in an engraving.

While we commend his achievements in cosmology, stand in awe of their genius and agree that an equation would look clever on his headstone… we must confess, that we have no idea what the equation actually means.

So the team here thought we would look at some other suggestions for what we could remember him by.

Indeed, as much as his theories touched the scientific community, it was probably his display of human spirit that touched the world.

If it was up to us, we would choose this quote of his to remember him by:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet… there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up”.

Goodbye Professor Hawking. Rest in peace.

Oscar Winner… with a lasting impression

gary oldman

Oscars night. One of our favourite evenings of the year here at Engravers Guild… because, for one night only, the art of engraving is not a backroom function but rather a focal point of the event.

After the main ceremony in the Dolby Theatre where the great and the good of the movie world receive the accolades they have been dreaming for, the winners then head to the hottest room in town – the Engraving Bar.

The Hollywood glitterati have to duly form a line and wait their turn for the attention of the engraver, being patient until the engraver can see them.

On this blog, you may have seen we’ve written previously about the Oscars evening. We’ve noted how it’s when the names are engraved on the trophies that the real magic happens in the eyes of the winners.

It’s a permanent impression on the golden figurines that creates their story and imparts its value.

However, this year, we report on another type of impression that became part of the story.

Gary Oldman, successful in the category of Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour”, was this year lucky enough to pay a visit to the Engraving Bar.

Before he got there, though, he had already made a permanent impression in his precious award – and it wasn’t an engraving.

Climbing the stairs with his fellow winners, he was walking alongside the bannister when… an almighty clonk was heard.

The sound that rang out was the impact of his metal statuette smashing the balustrade of the metal bannister.

The actor immediately stopped dead and looked down sheepishly as he assessed the damage.

An eye witness account by a Hollywood reporter claimed that the coveted prize picked up it’s first impression of the evening in the form of a dent.

Whether it did dent or didn’t is still not certain. But, even if it did, then Engravers Guild doesn’t think this matters at all.

The worth of an Oscar is in the story that it tells – the marks and impressions that allude to its history. Should it be dented, or should it be not, it’s just another chapter in the story of the award.

Brad Pitt’s engraved bike

brad pitt

At Engravers Guild of London, we keep a keen eye out for engraved items that come up for auction.

Most of the time, the lots range from things like personalised watches, bespoke jewellery and custom pens. However, every so often something comes up that even we didn’t know was commonly done.

We’re all aware of how there are a myriad of options to customise a car. Limited edition trims, gold plated detail and embroidered initials are favourite details of the celebrities and wealthy alike.

Engraving, though, was never closely associated with vehicles… until now.

This week an old bike that belonged to Brad Pitt was announced for auction. The Hollywood megastar is a well-known lover of two wheel transport, regularly buying and selling bikes as he develops his collection.

One particular bike stands out from the others.

When Brad Pitt had finished filming Ocean’s Eleven, he was reportedly gifted a rare 2009 Triumph Bonneville Bud Ekins Desert Scrambler by the producer, Jerry Weintraub.

On the fuel cap was engraved a personal birthday message to the ‘Fight Club’ star, cementing its status for evermore as a highly coveted motorcycle.

Only three of this model of bike were ever made, and it was produced in homage to the late Bud Ekins, who was the stunt rider and friend of Steve McQueen.

The design is intended to mimic the posture of the riders in the 1960s, and on the side is painting a list of famous motorcycle victories from the era.

The bike comes complete with its original plates and is reported to be in good working condition.

All this helps add up to make an extremely valuable collectable, and a price guide has been set at up to £30,000 when it goes under the hammer in London.

So if you’re looking for a new way to get about town, then don’t miss your opportunity to buy your part of motorcycle history.