Lot 10
  • 10

A German renaissance gilt-copper and gilt-brass 'reiter uhr' automaton table clock, Nikolaus Schmidt, Augsburg, circa 1580

180,000 - 250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Copper, brass, steel
  • 29cm. 11½in. high
the two train fuse and chain movement with pinned barrel caps, oval brass plates stamped NS for Nikolaus Schmidt, plain steel pillars, verge and plain brass balance escapement with later hairspring and regulator, locking plate striking on a bell, the richly gilded case surmounted by an elegantly dressed figure astride his horse, the figure moving his head from side to side as the clock strikes, the repoussé gilt-copper base decorated on the upper side with building and creatures and engraved with hours dial and strike recording dial, the moulded lower section decorated with leaves and strapwork, the damascened iron underside with gilt bun feet


Time Museum, Rockford, Illinois, Inventory No. 557.
Sotheby's New York, Masterpieces from the Time Museum, 19th June 2002, Lot 203
Private European Collection


Maurice, Klaus & Mayr, Otto, eds., The Clockwork Universe, German Clocks & Automata, 1550-1650, Washington D.C., 1980, Fig.73.


Movement running at time of cataloguing but would probably benefit from a clean and fresh oil, later balance spring and regulation, strike hammer replaced, striking click work replaced, otherwise generally good. Hour and strike hands replaced. Automaton figure in good condition and retains much of the original gilding, baton in right hand replaced, sword replaced. Plinth case in good condition and retains much of the original gilding. With a winder.
"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

Nikolaus Schmidt was born in Wiltz, Luxembourg around 1550 and became a Master at Augsburg in 1576.

The art of clock making developed rapidly in Europe during the 16th century. Clockmakers looked for ever more innovative ways to incorporate entertainment as well as information into their clocks and the dawn of the spring-driven domestic clock enabled the power of the spring to be utilised in creating portable novelty automaton clocks. Augsburg became a centre of manufacture for such pieces and, as a city renowned for its fine metalworking, the case designs became evermore fanciful. Animals were popular representations with lions, camels, elephants and eagles all featuring strongly. However, models featuring horses and riders, "reiter uhren", are particularly rare with Klaus Maurice stating that only three other similar examples are known.

A very similar clock was sold Christies, Amsterdam, 19th December 2007 for €264,000
A German renaissance automaton Unicorn clock was sold in these rooms, Treasures, 9th July 2014 for £722,500.