Josiah Emery, born in 1731 in Canton de Vaud, Switzerland, is renowned for his work making precision timekeepers, and as one of the key pioneers in the development of the lever escapement following the original creation by Thomas Mudge. Such was the regard in which he was held that his list of clientele included Lord Horatio Nelson, Louis XVI of France and George III of England.
Emery’s watches with lever escapement were produced in two sizes, the smaller 40mm plate and larger 45mm plate, the present lot being in the latter category. In fact interestingly, as it is repeating , it is slightly larger than usual, measuring 46mm across the plate. It is one of only three Emery lever escapement watches with Repeating known to have survived. The present watch is a half quarter repeater, there are two other watches which feature repeating work by Emery which are half-quarter, and half-ten-minute repeating.
In total it is speculated that Emery made, during his lifetime, approximately 33 lever watches of the two sizes. This one, numbered 1125, dates to 1788 and joins one of only a small number to remain in their original, untouched condition. Of the watches known this piece sits between watches 1107 and 1161 both of which are also of the larger size.
Wonderfully preserved, the watch has every feature one would expect to find on a watch of such calibre and executed by a maker of such skill. Consistently, throughout the lineage of Emery's lever watches certain features are discernible. Perhaps the most eye-catching is the enamel regulator type dial, largely conceived in the same simple and aesthetically pleasing style. The movement too, is typical of Emery’s best work with a finely engraved balance bridge and signature to the outermost edge. Utilising a 4-arm ‘Double-S' balance and helical balance spring, the movement appears to be the earliest known example to employ Emery's development of his earlier 2 plane lever, in which the fork of the lever is moved by a roller, running in jewels, affixed to the balance staff.
We would like to express our thanks to Jonathan Betts for his assistance and expertise on the subject.
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