Palmerton Area Historical Society became involved with the sale at Christie's Auction House of Stephen S. Palmer's watch. Palmer was a turn-of-the-century industrialist and founder of the New Jersey Zinc Company and town of Palmerton.

Christie's wanted some historical background on the town that was begun by Palmer for use in its sales catalog.

Society member Peter Kern sent a package of items including the recent "Messages from Palmerton, The First Fifty Years," a book of old postcards.

Elisa Catenazzi, a senior administrator in Christie's watch department, said, "I never thought that postcards could be such an important way to learn about history and society."

In 1900 Palmer traveled to Geneva where he purchased a pocket watch. It was a Patek Phillippe Grand Complication No. 97912, one of 10 such watches produced. It is a gold open-face minute repeating perpetual calendar of split seconds chronograph clock watch with grande and petite sonnerie and moon phases. The sale will include the original documents concerning the watch.

Before that watch was built, there were others with minute repeaters, perpetual calendars or a chronograph, but none with everything combined.

The watch bears the monogram "SSP" on the back. Watches had to be preordered because just adding the monogram took several days.

Two collectors pushed Patek Phillippe to make the complicated timepieces: Henry Graves and James Ward Packard of automotive fame. The clock watch has been described as rewriting the history of Patek Phillippe.

When Palmer bought the watch, it was one of three purchased that day. He had an older Patek Phillippe watch that he used as a partial exchange.

The other two watches have not surfaced and Christie's hopes that one day a grandson or great-grandson of Palmer will bring a watch and say, "I've got a watch from my grandfather or great-grandfather."

The expected value of the watch will be between $1,200,000 and $1,800,000. The sale of "Important Watches" will be held June 11.

Information received from Palmerton Area Historical Society newsletter and the Internet.