Horological Works of Art from the Masterworks of Time Collection

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Launch Slideshow

The Masterworks of Time collection of horological masterpieces is a tremendous example of one person spending their life in search of important and technically significant pieces that document the history watchmaking through the centuries. Click above to discover the highlights from the first of the four-part series of sales, George Daniels: Visionary.

Through the passage of time watchmakers strove to develop new mechanisms and skills to enhance the telling of time. As these skills developed so did the design and decoration. The early stackfreed watches of the 16th and 17th Century demonstrate the amazing craftsmanship and artistry of these makers at a time when the tools and resources available were very basic. As techniques enhanced so did the decoration of the watch cases with beautiful colourful enamels being prevalent in the 18th Century and even more so in the 19th Century for pieces made to cater for the new demand in the orient.

Throughout time all watch making ateliers used skilled outworkers to manufacture sole components. There where case makers, dial makers, wheel makers etc. The watch was then assembled by the artist craftsman. George Daniels, who was inspired by such revolutionary watchmakers as George Margetts, took it upon himself to master these individual skills to make every component himself. The mechanical masterpieces he created are appreciated around the world for their exquisite design and meticulous attention to detail.

Horological Works of Art from the Masterworks of Time Collection

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    German, Stamped CK, An Important and Massive Early Gilt-Brass Hour Striking Clock Watch with Stackfreed, Alarm and Astrolabic Dial, circa 1575.
    Estimate £43,000–60,000

    During the 16th and 17th centuries, complex scientific instruments were highly desirable objects, which alluded to their owner's status and education. Portable instruments were especially coveted and the combination of an astrolabic dial with a striking watch movement would have made this piece a particularly important object for its 16th-century owner.
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    Ferdinand Berthoud & Jean Martin, Paris, A Very Rare and Fine Early Brass Cased Marine Chronometer 1795, No. 64.
    Estimate £42,000–60,000.

    Following an apprenticeship in Paris, Ferdinand Berthoud received the title of Master Watchmaker in 1754, and dedicated the rest of his life to studying and developing accurate marine chronometers. In 1764, he received the title of Horologer de la Marine, a post particularly esteemed at a period when the race to construct a timepiece capable of finding longitude at sea was of critical importance. Berthoud was sent to London by King Louis XV and returned to France with an understanding of the new British technology. He designed two marine clocks which were successfully used on several voyages by the French Navy. From then on, he produced all marine clocks and watches used on the King's ships, dedicating nearly 50 years to the study of accurate marine chronometers.
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    S. Smith & Son, London, An Important and Massive Gold Grande and Petite Sonnerie Two-Train Clockwatch with Trip Minute Repetition, Perpetual Calendar, Split Seconds Chronograph and Tri-Colour Dial 1903, No. 309-2.
    Estimate £170,000–260,000.

    At the turn of the 20th century, S. Smith and Son was the most prominent London maker of complicated watches. Samuel Smith, a jeweller and watchmaker, started the business in 1851, and worked alongside Nicole Nielsen, who produced watches for Smith. Smith not only manufactured watches, but also excellent chronometers, whose performance made the firm a supplier to the Admiralty. For generations to come, S.Smith & Son remained a family-run organization and further developed automobile and aircraft instruments in addition to clocks and watches. This clockwatch is among the largest built by the firm. It belongs to a select group of oversized complicated watches made by one of the most prestigious English watchmakers at the turn of the last century.
  •  
    William Ilbery, London, A Magnificent Gold, Enamel, Hardstone and Seed Pearl-Set Centre Seconds Duplex Watch Made for the Chinese Market, circa 1800, No. 6119.
    Estimate £35,000–50,000.

    William Ilbery succeeded his father John in the family business and became the leading partner of the firm. William was active from 1780 until his retirement in the mid-1840s, running the family business predominantly from London. He is best known for the production of luxury watches for the Chinese Market and arguably set the new fashion for all watches made for the Asian Market. While William's father John usually made watches with a verge escapement, William favoured pieces of Swiss manufacture with the traditional duplex escapement, as seen in this timepiece.
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    William Anthony, London, A Magnificent and Very Rare 8-Day Gold, Enamel, Split-Pearl and Diamond-Set Duplex Watch Made for the Chinese Market 1797, No. 1898.
    Estimate £70,000–100,000.

    Specialising in watches for the Chinese market, William Anthony is particularly famous for his magnificent and elaborate oval watches. The sumptuous yet tightly ordered decoration to the case of this watch is complemented by the wonderful clarity of the white enamel dial, which is divided into two equal sections, with hours and minutes above subsidiary seconds. As was customary for many watches for the Chinese market, almost every surface of the 8-day duration movement is intricately engraved. The movement also has a large and prominent hanging barrel and a duplex escapement.
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    Charles Frodsham, London, A Heavy and Massive Gold Hunting Cased Keyless Lever Two-Train Grande and Petite Sonnerie Clock Watch with Trip Minute Repetition, Perpetual Calendar with Moon Phases, Chronograph with Central Register 1884, No. 06989, Made 1884.
    Estimate £50,000–80,000.

    Clearly designed to impress, this is a remarkably large and exceptionally heavy watch, weighing 449g. The heft of the case is in large part achieved by the extremely thick central body which has broad multiple steps. The two-train movement is highly complex and the use of an additional central hand for registering chronograph minutes to the edge of the dial is unusual and particularly noteworthy. This timepiece is accompanied by a Charles Frodsham & Co Certificate of Origin confirming the watch entered their stock in 1884.
  •  
    George Daniels, London, A Unique and Highly Important Yellow Gold Watch with Daniels Double-Wheel Escapement, Mean-Solar and Sidereal Time, Annual Calendar, Age and Phase of Moon and Equation of Time Indications 1982 Space Traveller I.
    Estimate £700,000–1,000,000.

    The ‘Space Traveller’ was conceived as a timepiece to honour the astronauts that Daniels so admired. Daniels was determined that his watch would be one that could be of theoretical use to an astronaut. He therefore set out to devise a watch that displayed both mean-solar and sidereal time. Traditionally the standard of time used by astronomers, sidereal time is based on the amount of time it takes the Earth to turn on its axis: by measuring the Earth’s transit of a fixed star, one can measure the actual time it takes for the Earth to turn on its axis.

    George Daniels began working on his Space Traveller watch in 1979, the same year that he was elected Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. One of the most important watches of modern times, this is arguably Daniels’s most famous and coveted watch. Indeed, Daniels was so fond of his “Space Traveller” that, regretting his original agreement to sell the watch, immediately set out to make one other example; the latter watch known as the “Space Traveller II” would remain his personal watch until his death in 2011. This is not only the first time in more than 30 years that the watch has been offered for sale, it is also the first time since 1988 that the watch has been seen in public.
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    German, A Magnificent Gilt-Metal, Enamel, Ruby and Diamond-Set Obelisk Timepiece with Gold Mounts and Renaissance Style Decoration, circa 1720.
    Estimate £50,000–70,000.

    This magnificent timepiece is probably from Dresden and likely to be the work of Court Jeweller Johann Heinrich Köhler (1669-1736). Köhler worked as a goldsmith, jeweller, and ivory carver, and went on to become the court Jeweller in 1718 under Friedrich Augustus I of Saxony. Two clocks of similar design made by Joachim Menzhausen are in The Green Vaults in Leipzig. Köhler was one of several jewellers who supplied the Dresden Court in the circle of Johann Melchior Dinglinger.
  •  
    Josephus Quash, London, A Magnificent Over-Sized Gilt-Metal Astronomical Watch with Rock Crystal Scallop-Form Case, circa 1665.
    Estimate £42,000–70,000.

    With a large and impressive rock crystal case, this watch also has a complex and skilfully arranged astronomical dial. The uppermost dial consists of a central revolving disc with four concentric rings and a fixed fifth outer ring. The inner two rings indicate the dates in each month on which the signs of the Zodiac commence and end according to the Julian 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. The date is indicated via a bug mounted to the edge of the month disc. To the lower dial, a single hand indicates the hours on the Roman numeral chapter ring. The fan form aperture to the left shows the days of the week with the 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.
  •  
    George Margetts, London, An Important Gold and Enamel Pair Cased Cylinder Watch with Tidal Dial, Annual Calendar and Astronomical Indications, The Outer Case Back with Enamel Panel Painted En Grisaille 1778, No.1.
    Estimate £130,000–220,000.

    Just four or five astronomical watches of this type by Margetts are known. The late Dr George Daniels noted that, compared to Margetts's marine timepieces, the "astronomical watches reveal an entirely different philosophy. Beautifully made and finished, they are fine examples of the art of the 18th century English horologist." Two unnumbered examples of these astronomical watches which are earlier than this piece can be found in the British Museum. The fact that this watch is numbered '1' and has a fine and highly decorated outer case would suggest that this was the first watch of this type to be issued and sold by Margetts. Indeed, the dials to the two examples in the British museum are slightly different, neither having an aperture for moon age to the centre but, instead, the moon age is calibrated to the edge of the tidal dial.
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