Export bar placed on King George III’s watch

A temporary export bar has been placed on a watch previously owned by King George III.

The timepiece, which was made in 1808, has been valued at £2 million.

It was designed and made by the watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet and there are thought to be fewer than 10 of the watches still in existence.

The watch has been valued at £2 million
The watch has been valued at £2 million

The export bar, placed on it by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is to allow time for a UK institution or gallery to come forward and purchase it to prevent it being sold overseas.

The department described the watch as “Bridgerton-era”, in a reference to the hit Netflix series about Regency London.

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said: “With the nation captivated by Bridgerton, there is no better time for this watch owned by George III to come to light.

“This rare specimen is beautifully crafted and would make an excellent addition to a UK collection.

The watch was made in 1808
The watch was made in 1808

“I hope that a buyer can be found so that the public can continue to be inspired by this exciting period of our history.”

The decision to place the export bar was made following advice from the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, an independent advisory body to DCMS.

The watch can be purchased for its recommended price of £2,000,000 plus VAT of £400,000.

Committee member Pippa Shirley said: “This watch is a tour-de-force of the art of horology.

“At the very cutting edge of technology, the beauty of its mechanism is matched by the restrained elegance of its case, all of which would have been prized by its original owner King George III, an astute collector and active horologist.

“This type of watch is not currently represented in any national collection.

“With fewer than ten thought to still exist, the opportunity to save this pristine example for the nation, with its rich connection to the social and political history of Britain and Europe, simply must not be missed.

“Its loss from Britain would be a misfortune.”

The decision on the export licence application for the watch has been deferred until April 28, however this could be extended to September 28 if a buyer has a serious intention to raise the necessary funds.