Lot 85
  • 85

Josiah Emery

50,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Josiah Emery
  • yellow gold
  • diameter 63 mm
• gilded full plate lever movement, double S balance wheel with two gold timing screws and two gold adjusting screws, decoratively engraved balance bridge, diamond endstone, fusee and chain, hammers striking a toc, gilt dust cap •  white enamel regulator type dial eccentric hour dial with Roman numerals, outer Arabic minute track, subsidiary seconds, pink gold hands •  18k yellow gold consular case, • movement and cap signed and numbered Josiah Emery, Charing Cross London, 1125, dial signed Emery, London, case with maker's mark incuse for Valentine Walker, hallmarked London 1788 


Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 22, No. 5, 1996, pp. 394-401
Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 22, No. 6, 1996, pp. 510-423
Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1996, pp. 26-44 
Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1996, pp. 134-150


Movement not running at the time of cataloguing. The train runs when pressure is applied but the oil have coagulated to such as extent that both the going train and the repeating trains are not running. The dial and hands in very good condition, no hairlines visible at the time of cataloguing. The case with scuffs throughout consistent with wear. The back cover will not close completely. The cap with a scratch to below and to the left of the winding square. Hallmarks and makers mark to the case in very good condition, visible and sharp.The watch has not been tested to determine the accuracy of its timekeeping. Please note that Sotheby's does not guarantee the future working of the movement and that a service may be required at the buyer's discretion.
"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 piece is of the utmost importance, being presented for the first time at auction, and until now, unknown to the horological community. Josiah Emery, born in 1731 in Canton de Vaud, Switzerland, is renowned for his work making precision timekeepers, and as one of the key pioneers in the development of the lever escapement following the original creation by Thomas Mudge. Such was the regard in which he was held that his list of clientele included Lord Horatio Nelson, Louis XVI of France and George III of England.

Emery’s watches with lever escapement were produced in two sizes, the smaller 40mm plate and larger 45mm plate, the present lot being in the latter category. In fact interestingly, as it is repeating , it is slightly larger than usual, measuring 46mm across the plate.  It is one of only three Emery lever escapement watches with Repeating known to have survived. The present watch is a half quarter repeater, there are two other watches which feature repeating work by Emery which are half-quarter, and half-ten-minute repeating.    

In total it is speculated that Emery made, during his lifetime, approximately 33 lever watches of the two sizes. This one, numbered 1125, dates to 1788 and joins one of only a small number to remain in their original, untouched condition. Of the watches known this piece sits between watches 1107 and 1161 both of which are also of the larger size.

Wonderfully preserved, the watch has every feature one would expect to find on a watch of such calibre and executed by a maker of such skill.  Consistently, throughout the lineage of Emery's lever watches certain features are discernible. Perhaps the most eye-catching is the enamel regulator type dial, largely conceived in the same simple and aesthetically pleasing style. The movement too, is typical of Emery’s best work with a finely engraved balance bridge and signature to the outermost edge.  Utilising a 4-arm ‘Double-S' balance and helical balance spring, the movement appears to be the earliest known example to employ Emery's development of his earlier 2 plane lever, in which the fork of the lever is moved by a roller, running in jewels, affixed to the balance staff.

We would like to express our thanks to Jonathan Betts for his assistance and expertise on the subject.