Treasure: Tiffany watch has ties to Hudson Motor Co.

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

‘I have been a collector of Hudson Motor Car Company memorabilia for all of my adult life,” Ken Poynter wrote recently to the column. “My father worked for Hudson for 30 years beginning in 1926. Among my cherished Hudson items is a Tiffany pocket watch awarded in 1916 to John V. Machesky upon completion of the transcontinental run, which set a time record. It is in its original pouch in the original presentation case. While I realize it must have value because it is Tiffany, I know nothing about its actual value nor the quality of this particular model.

“I have included pictures of the watch, plus an article I wrote for the White Triangle News, the official publication of the International Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club. Any information you could provide regarding the watch’s value and quality would be extremely helpful.”

The article, written by Poynter, includes additional information about the 18-karat, 17-jewel presentation watch, which reads on the back “Presented to J.V. Machesky by The Hudson Motor Car Co. in appreciation of his services in establishing the Twice Across America Record,” with statistics and a date of Sept. 16, 1916.

The watch has two major things going for it, according to independent appraiser Brian Thomczek, who took a good look at the piece during a recent appraisal session at the Michigan Design Center in Troy. One is the provenance, or history, which ties it to a particular person and helps guarantee its authenticity. The second is the Tiffany name.

Poynter says his dad worked his way from Kentucky to Detroit, where he got a job with the Hudson Motor Car Co. For that reason, he now collects Hudson memorabilia, and the watch is among his prized possessions. His business card says “Collector of Anything Hudson, Essex, Terraplane, Dover,” and bears a Hudson logo. A part of his collection is on display at the Ypsilanti Auto Heritage Museum. The watch will also be on display there.

“I love to collect but know nothing about value,” he told Thomczek. Thomczek says Tiffany obviously is a well-known and well-respected name in the glass and jewelry business. “They’re still in business, but the older Tiffany, especially items made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, is what people desire most, including lamps and vases. This is the first Tiffany watch that I have seen,” the appraiser told Poynter. “It’s inscribed, and jewels make a difference for watch collectors.”

Thomczek told Poynter that, because of the provenance, he doesn’t doubt the authenticity. “It has a uniqueness and the original box, and even the box has value,” he said. “Off the cuff, I’d value it around $2,500 and up but it could definitely do better if you took it to auction.”

“The Tiffany name adds cachet and value,” he told Poynter. “This is not your average Elgin pocket watch.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity.


this item

Item: Tiffany pocket watch

Owner: Ken Poynter

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value:

$2,500 and up