Lot 4
  • 4

David Ramsay

150,000 - 250,000 GBP
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  • length 65 mm
• 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


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


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


Generally in working order, however, depending on position, will stop and start. Movement otherwise with minimal wear for a piece of its remarkable age. Top lid has some rubbing to scene. Bottom lid similarly rubbed. Sides with some minor losses to red wax, otherwise engraving is still well defined The lid Interior of James I portrait in excellent condition, and superbly executed, same for Arms on the opposite lid, Dial in good order, with minor rubbing to the month ring, particularly June and July. Minor losses to red wax on numerals. Superb piece both from a horological and historical perspective. Sympathetic restoration was carried out on the watch following its purchase from Sotheby's in 1995. This included the removal of the later replaced hands with indications of appropriate style and form for the period, as well as the addition of the finely pierced floral disc within the hour chapter ring which was lacking in the 1995 auction. The balance was replaced and the ratchet spring was repaired and the cock above the ratchet set-up which was lacking in 1995 was also added at that time.
"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

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.