Lot 3
  • 3

Benjamin Hill, Londini

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
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  • Benjamin Hill, Londini
  • diameter of outer case 58mm, outer inner 51.5mm
Movement: gilded full plate, verge escapement, decoratively pierced and floral engraved screwed-on balance cock, plain flat balance, worm and wheel set-up, fusee and chain, tulip pillars, signed Benjamin Hill Londini
Dial: gilded with stippled ground, upper dial with central revolving disc indicating the date via a blued steel bug, turned blued steel hand indicating month with corresponding signs of the Zodiac and dates in each month upon which the signs of the Zodiac commence according to the Julian calendar, lower dial with Roman numerals and quarter hour divisions, single blued steel hand, fan-form aperture indicating days of the week with corresponding allegorical figures, three apertures to the right for moon-phases with time of moon rise below and moon age above 
Cases: plain silver inner case, split bezel for glass retention, case back with shuttered winding aperture • leather outer case with fine decorative silver piqué work, the bezels decorated with groups and swags of small rosettes, central group of rosettes within a border surrounded by six large open tulips 


Howard Marryat Collection, London
George Daniels Collection, Sotheby’s London, 6th November 2012, lot 43


Howard Marryat, Henlein to Tompion, 1938, pp. 40-41, pl. D1
Cecil Clutton & George Daniels, Watches, 1965, figs. 146-148; 1979 edition figs. 85 a-c


Beautiful watch in lovely overall condition. Movement running at time of cataloguing, the backplate in good clean condition with small and minor crack to the very edge above the worm and wheel set up. Case with light scuffs, the winding shutter in good condition, some minor depressions to the band, pendant slightly loose and cover not closing tightly at present. Outer protective case in great condition, pin work in excellent order.
"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."

Catalogue Note

This rare astronomical watch is in outstanding condition and has an excellent provenance having been in the collections of both Howard Marryat and George Daniels. The skillfully and clearly arranged dial emphasises the complexity of its indications. The uppermost dial consists of a central revolving disc with three concentric rings and a fixed fourth outer ring. The inner ring indicates the dates in each month on which the signs of the Zodiac commence according to the old style calendar, with the signs on the ring next to those dates. Both are read, together with the months shown in the third ring, against the central hand which turns one twelfth faster than the disc, so advancing one month in each revolution. This hand requires re-setting only once a year when it reaches the blank ‘month’ marked between December and January. To the lower dial, a hand indicates the hours on the Roman numeral chapter ring. The fan form aperture to the left shows the days of the week with its corresponding allegorical figure, whilst all three apertures to the right relate to the moon - the circular aperture being the moon-phases, with windows directly above and below for moon age and time of moon rise.

Benjamin Hill was apprenticed to Richard Child and Free of the Clockmakers' Company on the 14th January, 1640, becoming its Master in 1657. He is recorded as having a wife named Gunnett and together they had at least eight children. Hill died in September 1670 and was buried at St Dunstan's-in the-West.  An interesting article about Benjamin Hill, written by Jeremy Evans for Antiquarian Horology, gives an illuminating account of his life, including the detailed inventory of his will. Also mentioned in the article is an advertisement in the London Gazette, dated 1684, which describes a silver watch by Benjamin Hill which bears "the increase and decrease of the Moon...the names of the days of the Week...the hours of the Day on a little Dial-plate and short Figures, with another little Dial-plate having the Days of the Months and Planet Signs" - the watch was recovered from one Laurence Keck, a robber apprehended by the Keeper of Newgate London and the advert invites possible owners to come forward. See: Antiquarian Horology, vol.XXVI, No.1 pp.52-61.

Further examples of watches by Benjamin Hill can be found in the collections of the British Museum, Victorian and Albert Museum, the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers at the Science Museum and the Museum of London.