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Jacqueline Kennedy’s personalised watch stirs a frenzy

Followers of this blog will be certainly familiar with our regular homages to the potency of an engraving. When an item is personalised, it takes on a new value that is greater than the worth of the item itself and becomes something with so much more meaning.

And so our ears pricked upon hearing that a watch belonging to the former First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, was going up for auction.

The 18 carat gold Cartier wristwatch was given to Jackie Kennedy by her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill to mark their completion of a “50-Mile Hike”.

Their walk was part of a public health initiative of her husband’s to get Americans more active as he feared the country was going ‘soft’.

The engraving states “Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 AM to 9:35 PM”, which refers to their start and stop times in 1963, when they walked on Palm Beach.

From that moment, the watch became a favourite piece of one of the world’s most photographed women, and can be seen in many pictures of her at the time.

Going up for sale at Christie’s this week, the New York auction house estimated a selling price of between $60,000 and $120,000. Originally bought for a few hundred dollars, and similar second hand versions now being picked up for a few thousand dollars, the auctioneers put a premium on the value of the story associated with the engraving.

However, even experienced hands like Christie’s still managed to under appreciate how valuable an engraving can really be.

The winning bid for the item was three times more than the highest forecast estimate, with the engraved gift going for $379,500 after “three minutes of spirited bidding”.

Described as a watch “full of emotion, love and history”, it was secured by an anonymous bidder, with a portion of the funds promised to charity.

While Engravers Guild of London does not sell vintage time pieces owned by former historical figures, we are proud to give people the chance to create vintage gifts for future historical figures.

If you know a future Prime Minister or President, do think about a pair of personalised silver cufflinks or engraved hip flask. And if it’s a future female leader you know, do not forget our personalised necklaces collection.