Race against time to save King George III's £2m watch for Britain

Race against time to save King George III’s £2m watch for Britain and stop it disappearing overseas after culture minister put temporary export bar on it

  • The £2million features revolutionary mechanism for more accurate timekeeping
  • Valued at £2,000,000, the watch was made in France in 1808 for George III
  • Culture minister Caroline Dinenage placed temporary export bar on gold watch

A race against time has begun to save for the nation a £2million watch made for George III.

Featuring a revolutionary mechanism for more accurate timekeeping, it represented cutting-edge technology in the early 19th century.

One of fewer than ten watches with a tourbillon mechanism made by Prussian master horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet known to exist, it was put up for sale by a private owner – and a foreign buyer wants it.

The watch that was made for George III in 1808 is one of fewer than ten watches with a tourbillon mechanism made by Prussian master horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet known to exist

But culture minister Caroline Dinenage has placed a temporary export bar on the gold watch. 

She said: ‘I hope that a [British] buyer can be found so that the public can continue to be inspired by this exciting period of our history.’

Valued at £2,000,000, plus VAT of £400,000, the watch was made in France in 1808 for George III. 

The tourbillon mechanism stabilises and protects the hands from being disturbed by daily use and the effects of gravity.

The king was a keen watch collector, and The Royal Collection holds manuscripts written in his hand in which he details the procedure for assembling them.

Documents issued by the Breguet firm show the watch was issued to their agent in London, Recordon, for George III. Breguet sold 35 tourbillon watches between 1805 and 1823.


The gold watch comes with a tourbillon mechanism which stabilises and protects the hands from being disturbed by daily use

The export bar was imposed following guidance from an advisory committee on objects of cultural interest. 

Member Pippa Shirley said: ‘This watch is a tour-de-force of the art of horology. Its loss from Britain would be a misfortune.’ The watch also includes a thermometer and a state of wind indicator.

The decision on the export licence application for the watch will be deferred until April 28 this year, and may be extended until September if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price.

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