Amongst a number of eminent worldwide Charles Frodsham clients, perhaps the most famous, was the Morgan family of New York. Frodshams was the Morgan’s preferred choice for quality timepieces. The association began when Junius Morgan became a business partner in the English branch of the banking house, George Peabody & Co., in 1854. The purchase and maintenance of fine clocks and watches for the Morgan family was continued by John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) who in 1883 presented a complicated watch to his personal valet George William on the occasion of his marriage. This watch was the forerunner to the most celebrated, and well known, of the Frodsham watches ordered by the Morgans, a series of state-of-the-art open face Tourbillons with minute repeating, split second chronograph, minute register and constant seconds.
To date, some 25 (made between 1897 and 1931) of these watches are known, either as extant or from archive records. They were, at the time of manufacture, one of the most complicated and expensive English production watches available, retailing at £200 to £300.
The 'Morgan caliper' watches were presentation pieces given by J.P. and J.P. Jnr. to close friends and/or new partners of the firm of JP Morgan, thus starting the long tradition of Frodsham presentation watches, perpetuated to this day. All are engraved with presentation inscriptions (the recipients and JPM initials with the year of presentation), and many still retain their original red leather Frodsham boxes, similarly inscribed.
Of the known pieces just 10 have appeared in public auction:
08616, The Esmond Bradley Collection, Sotheby’s New York, 22nd Oct 2002, lot 25
08867, Antiquorum Hong Kong, 29th May 1989, lot 342
08920, The present watch
08921, Ineichen Zurcich, 3rd Mar 1981, lot 44
09636, Christies New York, 25th Oct 1994, lot 362
09682, Sotheby’s New York, 10th Dec 2013, lot 68
09777, Christies New York, 18th April 1984, lot 192
09849, Christies New York, 28th Oct 1991, lot 360
09857, Sotheby’s New York, 27th Oct 1997, lot 350
010303, Christies New York, 26th Jun 1996, lot 140
The other known extant pieces are either in private collections, or remain the property of family descendants of the original owners.
We are grateful to Charles Frodsham & Co, London, for their kind assistance in compiling this lot.