Lot 1
  • 1

Nicholas Vallin

10,000 - 18,000 GBP
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  • Gilt Metal
  • length including pendant, 67 x 42mm
• gilt full plate movement, pierced and engraved balance cock, engraved plate decorated with foliage, rounded baluster pillars, fusee and gut line, ratchet and click set-up and large bow-shaped spring, later verge and balance • gilt dial with Roman numerals and half hour star-shaped markers, silver touch pins within chapter ring marking hours, single arrow hour hand, central engraving of seated cherub beside an hourglass with an elbow resting upon a skull • case front with engraved allegorical figure of Peace, case back depicts Justice, winding square, band engraved with decorative foliage • movement signed N Vallin 


Antiquorum Geneva, The Sandberg Collection, 1st April, 2001, lot 232


Terence Camerer Cuss, The Sandberg Watch Collection, pp. 40-41

Terence Camerer Cuss, The English Watch, 1585-1970, pp. 24-25, pl. 3


Movement working when wound at the time of cataloguing. Verge and balance later. Dial with minor scratches and scuffs, engraving defined. Case with indentations and scratches. Significant loss of detail to front engraving some discolouration at N. Evidence of repair to band. Case back with some loss of definition to the engraving and some discolouration.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. All dimensions in catalogue descriptions are approximate. Condition reports may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome. Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. Please note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and leather bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species.NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

**Please be advised that bands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping.

Important Notice regarding importation into the United States of Rolex watches
Sotheby's cannot arrange for the delivery of Rolex watches to the United States because U.S. laws restricts the import of Rolex watches. The buyer or a designated agent may collect the property in the country of sale."

Catalogue Note

The present lot is the earliest English watch in the collection and, dating to circa 1600, it is one of the very few Elizabethan watches to have survived. 

The subjects of Peace, Justice and Death, represented by the engravings to the covers and dial, were popular themes during this period of political upheaval, religious persecution and plague. The dial engraving may have been adapted from an ars moriendi block book which were initially used as teaching aids for the illiterate and poorly educated. Nicholas Vallin came to London from Brussels with his father John, a native of Ryssell, Flanders, having in all probability worked in Spain. He lived in the parish of St Ann's, Blackfriars and married Elizabeth Rendtmeesters at Austin Friars Dutch Church in June 1590. In 1603 a fresh outbreak of bubonic plague swept through London, killing 33,347 people. Within St Ann's Parish, 670 people died, including Nicholas Vallin's father, two of his journeymen, John Archer and John Leyns, his daughters Margaret and Jane and finally Nicholas himself. Only Vallin's widow and their 10 year old daughter survived. See: George White, English Lantern Clocks, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1989, pp.47-48.

Only a handful of watches by Nicolas Vallin are known and these are almost exclusively in public collections. Of the known pieces by Vallin, two were formerly in the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection and are now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The first is a small oval watch (2.9 x 2.2cm), the back has a gold and enamelled scene of St George and The Dragon and dates to circa 1590. This watch is mentioned by Britten in Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, Sixth edition, where he notes that, prior to its appearance in the Pierpont Morgan collection, it formed part of the Spitzer collection. The second watch is an hour striking watch with alarm dating to circa 1590. A further watch by Nicholas Vallin and a chamber clock dating to 1598 can be found in the collections of the British Museum in London.