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Thomas Mudge, London
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT RUBY CYLINDER WATCH, AND POSSIBLY THE EARLIEST PERPETUAL CALENDAR WATCH, NOW IN LATER SILVER CASE CIRCA 1762, NO. 525
Estimate
50,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 62,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
28
Thomas Mudge, London
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT RUBY CYLINDER WATCH, AND POSSIBLY THE EARLIEST PERPETUAL CALENDAR WATCH, NOW IN LATER SILVER CASE CIRCA 1762, NO. 525
Estimate
50,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 62,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Celebration of the English Watch Part II: John Harrison’s Enduring Discovery

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London

Thomas Mudge, London
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT RUBY CYLINDER WATCH, AND POSSIBLY THE EARLIEST PERPETUAL CALENDAR WATCH, NOW IN LATER SILVER CASE CIRCA 1762, NO. 525
Movement: gilded full plate, ruby cylinder escapement, decoratively pierced and floral engraved masked balance cock, fusee and chain, baluster pillars • gilt-metal dust
cap • movement and dust cap signed Tho. Mudge, London, movement numbered 525
Dial: white enamel, Roman numerals, outer Arabic minute ring, gold beetle and poker hands, aperture for moon-phases with female reset square, aperture to left for months including auxiliary aperture for February with leap year indication, aperture to right for days of the week, outer silver date ring with indicator above 12 o’clock
Case: later plain silver case
diameter 50 mm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

David Landes, Boston

Literature

Terence Camerer Cuss, The English Watch 1585-1970, 2009, p. 219, pl. 129

David Landes, Revolution in Time, Viking, 2000, p. 474

George Daniels, Thomas Mudge, The Complete Horologist, Antiquarian Horology Vol. 13, No. 2, December 1981, p. 160 & p. 164, pl, 8A & 8B

R. Good, Watch by Thomas Mudge, London, No. 574 with perpetual calendar mechanism, Antiquarian Horology Vol. 13, No. 2, December 1981, p. 181

Charles Allix, Mudge Milestones, Watch Dates, Antiquarian Horology Vol.12, No. 6, June 1981, p. 629

Catalogue Note

This important watch is highly significant in the development of horology, as possibly the earliest watch with perpetual calendar. Though the perpetual calendar mechanism had been employed in clock work as early as c.1695 by both Tompion and his successor Graham, Thomas Mudge is often credited as the first person to adapt it for a watch. Only two perpetual calendar watches by Mudge are currently known, the present watch (no. 525) and number 574, which is now in the British Museum and has its original gold case hallmarked for 1764. In 1981, Dr. George Daniels wrote an article on Thomas Mudge for Antiquarian Horology and dated the present watch’s movement (no.525) to 1762. Interestingly, the British Museum also houses a perpetual calendar clock by Thomas Mudge which is dated to 1765, only three years later than the present watch. Despite early examples of the application of the perpetual calendar in clocks, no complete perpetual calendar watch is known with certainty before the dating of the present lot. For many years it had been assumed that Abraham Louis Breguet had been the first to incorporate a perpetual calendar, as Breguet began to construct his famous “Marie Antoinette” watch which included a perpetual calendar in 1783.

Both Mudge perpetual calendar watches, nos. 525 & 574 are mechanically and visually similar. Cleary much consideration was given to the design of the dial in order to ensure that it was practical and easy to read. The date is indicated by a gold marker above the 12 o’clock position which reads against a rotating date disc – this ring is geared to take into account the correct number of days in the month. There is a large moon-phase aperture and two larger sector apertures to the left and right. The left aperture displays months of the year, each with the number of days engraved beneath. February has its own auxiliary dial indicating the month’s length and leap year. The right hand aperture shows the days of the week. A detailed description of the perpetual calendar mechanism of no. 574 can be found in R. Good’s article, Watch by Thomas Mudge, London, No. 574 with perpetual calendar mechanism, Antiquarian Horology, December 1981, pp. 181-182. It is also notable that both Mudges, nos. 525 & 574 have a ruby cylinder, as he was one of the first watchmakers to incorporate this important feature.

Thomas Mudge (1715-1794) was born in Exeter and was later sent to London where, on 4th May, 1730, he was apprenticed to George Graham. Mudge was Free of the Clockmakers’ Company from 1738, following which he set up his own business close to Graham on Fleet Street. In 1750, William Dutton who had also been apprenticed to Graham and was Freed in 1746, joined Mudge’s business. Initially their clocks continued to be signed as ‘Thomas Mudge,’ but by the 1760s this was changed to Mudge & Dutton. Thomas Mudge’s 1757 invention of the lever escapement has solidified his reputation as one of England’s most important makers. More than 250
years later, the application of the lever escapement still dominates the production of mechanical watches around the world. In addition to his innovations in precision time keeping, Mudge also made what may be the first watch with equation of time, the first with perpetual calendar and the first with remontoir in the gear train. (See: Landes, Revolution in Time, p.234). In 1771, Mudge moved to Plymouth where he continued
to work on perfecting his marine chronometers.

Celebration of the English Watch Part II: John Harrison’s Enduring Discovery

|
London