Lot 6
  • 6

Mathieu Des hais, London

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Mathieu Des hais, London
  • Gold
  • diameter of inner case 48mm, outer case 55mm
Movement: later gilded full plate, decoratively pierced balance cock engraved with foliage and a head above the neck, flat three-arm balance with spring, both ends of the spring secured by square tapered pins in square holes, fusee and chain, crested Egyptian pillars, signed Mathieu Des hais
Dial: white enamel chapter ring with Roman numerals, outer Arabic minute ring, inner quarter hour divisions, the centre with translucent blue enamel over circular engraving, blued steel tulip and poker hands
Cases: plain gold inner case, the back with shuttered winding aperture, split bezel for glass retention, case maker's mark a stylised fleur-de-lis above broad 'I' or pedestal [unidentified] • outer leather protective case with decorative gold piqué work, the back centred with a Royal coronet and cipher, Charles Rex conjoined and reversed


Terence Camerer Cuss, The English Watch 1585-1970, 2009, pp. 110-111, pl. 48
Jeremy Evans, Thomas Tompion at the Dial and Three Crowns, 2006, p. 117


Movement running at time of cataloguing and appears to be in good clean condition. Dial with hairline crack between 2 and 3 o'clock. Gold inner case with some minor depressions, rubbing to the shutter cover for winding aperture, there are two holes for winding to the case back - one for the previous movement and a revised hole for the present movement. There is dent beneath the pendant and some signs of repair to pendant to the inside of the case. The outer protective case with some splits to the shagreen and some pins missing to front bezel and case back.
"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

A fascinating watch of exceptional quality and character, the outer case back is tantalisingly decorated with a Royal Coronet and Cipher suggesting Charles Rex, conjoined and reversed in particularly fine gold pin work. The gold dial has a white enamel chapter ring with translucent Royal blue enamel over gold to the centre.

In his book, The English Watch 1585-1970, Terence Camerer Cuss notes that, whilst conclusive evidence is lacking, this watch was found some years ago "wrapped, together with some mourning rings, in newspaper dated 1822 in a house which had belonged to the same extended family since the 16th century. By a process of deduction it was very clear the rings belonged to Richard Benyon de Beauvoir, one of whose forebears married a Mary Tyssen, widow of one Paulet Wrighte. On the eighteenth century watch paper is written ‘Dr. Wright £-4s 6d’. Mary Tyssen was the daughter of Francis Tyssen of Sacklewell (1690-1717) and Rachel, daughter of Richard de Beauvoir – whose name Benyon assumed the same year as the wrapping paper. Richard de Beauvoir provided not only the Coronation rings for James II and Mary but also designed her Coronation Crown. The Tyssen and de Beauvoir families were goldsmiths and bankers; the royal family often turned to these when it was in need of money. The watch could have been sold to either the Tyssens or the de Beauvoirs, maybe after the king died in 1685.”

It may be that the movement originally fitted to this watch was not a success, however, it does seem certain that the original would also have had a balance spring as the dial has provision for minutes. The present movement by Des hais is of very fine quality and appears to have been especially fitted. Little is known of Mathieu Des hais of London, Baillie records a watch made by him, whilst Britten records a bracket clock. Indeed, Des hais is noted as a "shadowy character" by E. F. Bunt in an article for Antiquarian Horology, in which the writer notes a day book believed to have belonged to Benjamin Gray that shows Des hais to be the former's best customer, purchasing 38 movements, the majority between 1704 & 1710 [See: E. F. Bunt, An 18th Century Watchmaker and his Day-Book, Antiquarian Horology, No. 2. Vol. 8, March 1973, p. 179]. Movements signed by Des hais are of the highest order. A special feature of the movement of this watch and another by Des hais, numbered 254 & 57 (see, Sotheby’s London, Celebration of the English Watch Part I, 15th December 2015, lot 29) is that both ends of the balance spring are secured, not by the normal circular pin and hole, but the superior method of square tapered pins in square holes. Interestingly, Jeremy Evans writes of the Des hais watch no.79 in his book Thomas Tompion at the Dial and Three Crowns, noting “it displays workmanship closely comparable to Tompion’s style.”