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Auctions Watches With Ritz And Hemingway Provenance At Christie's New York

Auctions Watches With Ritz And Hemingway Provenance At Christie’s New York

Among the provenance-driven watches coming to auction this week in New York – and there are a couple – one of the least talked about may be a part seconds chronograph pocket watch said to be claimed by the American author Ernest Hemingway. According to Christie’s, the L. Leroy & Cie. split-seconds pocket watch isn’t simply associated with a great American author; it was skilled by the Parisian hotelier Charles Ritz, proprietor of the famed Ritz Hotel.

Hemingway’s time in Paris with a band of individual creatives would proceed to impact quite a bit of his later work, and was obviously immortalized in his 1964 diary A Moveable Feast. In Paris, Hemingway went through his days composing and nights carousing with a famous cast of artists and authors, some of them individual American expats, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. At the heart of this setting was one of Hemingway’s absolute favorite places on the planet, the Ritz – whose lodging bar he often patronized, famously “liberated” as World War II came to a nearby, and is, in fact, today named after him. It was in this celebratory setting that Ernest Hemingway and Charles Ritz’s companionship grew.

Charles Ritz and Ernest Hemingway

Lot 107 of the December 12 Christies “Important Watches and American Icons” auction in New York comprises a pair of 18-karat-gold pocket watches. They are the aforementioned L. Leroy split-seconds (circa 1920), which Christie’s says was initially given by Ritz to Hemingway on the occasion of the author’s fourth and final marriage, to Mary Welsh, in 1946. A subsequent watch, a Vacheron Constantin Chronometre Royal dating from 1914 that was the personal watch of Charles Ritz, balances the lot. On its back are engraved the initials CR for Charles Ritz. 

No question readers of this site are familiar with Vacheron Constantin, however L.Leroy may be less notable. The company is presently active in Switzerland. The historical, Paris-based maker of pocket watches can be traced to eighteenth century France and the watchmakers Pierre, Julien, and Basile Le Roy.

According to Christie’s, Hemingway’s widow restored the L. Leroy to Charles Ritz upon the author’s death in 1961, as a keepsake and memory for the deep rooted Hemingway companion. Later, Ritz had the two watches mounted in a frame along with his own image, and then skilled them to his companion, the late American philanthropist and manager Henry Dormann, whose family is presently committing the lot. On the image is expressed: “With warm regards and great fellowship, Charles Ritz.” The lot comprises the two watches, the marked picture and frame, and a letter of provenance from the sender. The pre-sale estimate for lot 107 is $15,000 to $25,000.

For more information on this lot and the sale, visit Christies.

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