4
4
David Ramsay
AN IMPORTANT AND EARLY SILVER AND GILT-METAL OVAL ASTRONOMICAL VERGE WATCH WITH PORTRAIT ENGRAVING OF KING JAMES I AND INDICATIONS FOR MONTHS WITH SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC,  DAY WITH RULING PLANET, LUNAR DATE, MOON-PHASES AND PLANET HOUR CIRCA 1618
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 989,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
4
David Ramsay
AN IMPORTANT AND EARLY SILVER AND GILT-METAL OVAL ASTRONOMICAL VERGE WATCH WITH PORTRAIT ENGRAVING OF KING JAMES I AND INDICATIONS FOR MONTHS WITH SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC,  DAY WITH RULING PLANET, LUNAR DATE, MOON-PHASES AND PLANET HOUR CIRCA 1618
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 989,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Celebration of the English Watch - Part I David Ramsay and the First Clockmakers' Court

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London

David Ramsay
AN IMPORTANT AND EARLY SILVER AND GILT-METAL OVAL ASTRONOMICAL VERGE WATCH WITH PORTRAIT ENGRAVING OF KING JAMES I AND INDICATIONS FOR MONTHS WITH SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC,  DAY WITH RULING PLANET, LUNAR DATE, MOON-PHASES AND PLANET HOUR CIRCA 1618
• gilt brass oval full plate movement, verge escapement, three-wheel train, engraved border, plain flat balance, ratchet set-up, fusee and gut line • engraved dial plate, applied silver chapter ring with red Roman numerals, pierced rotating central disc with blued steel ground indicating the time, silver chapter ring with days of the month indicated by a blued steel bug mounted on a revolving gilt metal centre pierced and engraved with the months and the corresponding signs of the Zodiac, to the left: wedge shaped aperture for day of the week with engraving of the ruling planet, apertures for lunar date above moon-phases, further small aperture for planet hour to lower right, the days of the week and planet hours with fixed blued steel hands indicating direction of disc rotation, further fixed hand by lunar date aperture • engraved scenes to the case covers from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, the front with putto beneath holding a tablet with engraver’s signature ‘De Heck Scul’, the inside of the upper cover engraved with the Royal Coat of Arms of King James I, the inside of the back cover with engraved miniature of King James after Simon de Passe, case band depicting Chronos supporting an hour-glass and Saint James the Greater with a petasus hat holding his sword and surrounded by flowers and foliage, heightened with red wax, gilt metal pendant in the form of addorsed reptiles • movement signed David Ramsay Scotte Me Fecit
length 65 mm
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Provenance

Sotheby's London, 2nd March, 1995, lot 17

Literature

Terence Camerer Cuss, The English Watch 1585-1970, pp. 34-35, pl. 10

Catalogue Note

This magnificent watch was made by David Ramsay, one of the finest early makers and the first Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers at its formation in 1632. Born in Scotland c. 1585, he went to work in France, arriving in England in about 1610, at the request of King James I. Ramsay was appointed chief clockmaker to James I in 1613, on a much higher salary than his predecessor, see Loomes, the Early Clockmakers of Great Britain, p.456, seemingly a clear indication of how highly he was regarded by the King. The engravings to the covers are taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a putto beneath the scene to the front holds a tablet engraved: De Heck Scul. Gérard de Heck was an outstanding engraver and was active between 1608 and 1629. Inside the cover, the Royal Arms are engraved with King James’s favourite motto: “Beati Pacifici” (Blessed are the Peacemakers). To the inside of the back cover is a wonderfully engraved portrait of King James himself, after an engraving by Simon de Passe. The original engraving was used as one of the plates in ‘Bazilologia’, a series of portraits of British monarchs first published in 1618, see, Hugh Clayton, Royal Faces, HMSO, 1977, p.30. De Passe was living in England between c.1616 and 1624, see, Hugh Tait, The Art of the Goldsmith, 1984, p. 70. This evidence would point to a likely date of execution for this watch of 1618 or shortly thereafter. The engraving is framed by the Latin inscription: “Potentis Iacobus D.G. Magnae Britanniae Hibernia Galliae Rex Fidei Defensor” – which translates as: “The mighty James D.G. The King of Great Britain, Ireland, France, Defender of the Faith.”

A similar watch by David Ramsay can be found on permanent loan at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The case of that watch features scenes from St. Luke's Gospel and a portrait of King James I to the inside cover which is after the same engraving by Simon de Passe. These watches were presumably made around the same time by order of the King. A third watch, similar to the above, signed David Ramsay Scotus me Fecit is in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland. It is possible that the present watch was commissioned as a gift for another family member. For example, as the Metamorphoses are to a large extent tales of the love adventures of the gods with nymphs and the daughters of men, it would perhaps have been a suitable present to give to Frederick V (1596-1632), Elector Palatine and King of Bohemia, husband of James's daughter Elizabeth, see Camerer Cuss, The English Watch 1585-1970, p. 35.

The Celebration of the English Watch - Part I David Ramsay and the First Clockmakers' Court

|
London