A gold pocket watch recovered from the Titanic sold on Auction

A gold pocket watch recovered from the Titanic was sold for 1.2 million pounds sterling. This watch, a Waltham gold piece, was found with the body of John Jacob Astor IV, who was one of the world's wealthiest individuals when he perished with the Titanic.


Photo credit: Auctioneers Francis Godolphin Osbourne Stuart and Henry Aldridge & Sons.


The watch, which accompanied American business magnate John Jacob Astor IV to his watery grave, was purchased by an anonymous American collector. Astor, one of the richest men globally at the time of his demise on April 15, 1912, was traveling in first class on the Titanic’s maiden voyage when it struck an iceberg and sank.

His body was recovered a week after the tragedy, along with his belongings which were cataloged by the authorities as including a gold watch, gold cufflinks with diamonds, a diamond ring with three stones, 225 pounds in British notes, $2,440 in bills, 5 pounds in gold, 7 shillings in silver, five ten-franc coins, a gold pencil, and a wallet.


John Jacob Astor IV and his golden pocket watch.

The 14-carat gold Waltham pocket watch, engraved with his initials JJA, was auctioned by Henry Aldridge & Son in Wiltshire as part of a sale titled Auction of Titanic, White Star, and Transport Memorabilia. It had been previously estimated to fetch between 100,000 and 150,000 pounds only.

The pocket watch has been owned and maintained by a member of the Astor family since the tragedy and is well-known among collectors of Titanic memorabilia. It has been featured in a full-page illustration in the most definitive book on Titanic relics, "Titanic Fortune and Fate" by Simon and Schuster, 1998, and has been displayed in exhibitions and museums, including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

John Jacob Astor IV is widely recognized as the wealthiest passenger aboard the RMS Titanic and was considered one of the world's richest individuals at the time, with a net worth of about $87 million (equivalent to several billion dollars today). His business interests, primarily in real estate, included the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel.


Despite his immense wealth, it could not save him on the fateful night of April 14-15, 1912, when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. According to notes accompanying the pocket watch auction, initially, Mr. Astor did not believe the ship was in serious danger but later realized the Titanic was indeed sinking and the captain had begun evacuation procedures.

He assisted his wife, Madelaine, into lifeboat 4, but an officer told him he could not join her as the priority was given to women and children. Mr. Astor perished, but his wife survived.