The Celebration of the English Watch

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Launch Slideshow

In The Celebration of the English Watch, Sotheby’s London will present the largest and most important collection of English pocket watches to ever come to the market. Spanning 400 years, this collection’s 314 lots will be offered over four auctions. As Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Watches notes, “Timepieces like these are not only exceptional watches, they are pieces of history.”

Part I: David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court
15 December 2015 | London

Part II: John Harrison’s Enduring Discovery
7 July 2016 | London

Part III: The Genius of Thomas Tompion
20 September 2016 | London

Part IV: George Daniels, 20th Century Innovator
6 July 2017| London

The Celebration of the English Watch

  • Part I: David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court
    The star lot of the sale is a Royal oval astronomical watch with an engraved portrait of King James I by David Ramsay. Considered one of the finest makers of the early 17th century, Ramsay was the first master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers at its formation in 1632, as well as the Chief Clockmaker to the King.

    David Ramsay, A rare silver and gilt-metal royal oval verge watch with astronomical dial and engraved portrait miniature of King James I circa 1618. Estimate: £150,000–250,000.

  • Part I: David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court
    The engraving on this watch’s outer case is a faithful rendering of a scene after William Marshall (1617–1649), produced immediately following Charles I’s execution in 1649. It was used for a frontispiece of Eikon Basilike published the same year.

    Richard Bowen, A rare and historically significant silver astronomical verge watch with engraving of Charles I based on a 17th-century engraving by William Marshall, circa 1660. Estimate: £60,000–80,000.

  • Part I: David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court
    John Arnold refers to the present watch as “the Best Kind,” a term he reserved for his large chronometers. The movement of this watch is one of only a handful that exist with their original short-spring detents and it is the earliest form of spring detent that Arnold used. No.39/88 is the only Arnold watch with the short-spring detent to retain its original case.

    John Arnold, London, An extraordinary and important gold half quarter dumb repeating consular cased pocket chronometer of “the Best Kind,” 1782, No. 39/88. Estimate: £125,000–200,000.

  • Part I: David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court
    Daniel Quare (1649–1724) was a highly esteemed watchmaker of his day. Until recently this extremely rare watch was unrecorded. It is the only example of similar size, with quarter repeating and rack quarter striking from this or any earlier period to have survived.

    Daniel Quare, London, An important gold two-train quarter striking and quarter repeating pair cased clock watch with regulator aperture, circa 1712–14, No. 324. Estimate: £70,000–100,000.

  • Part I: David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court
    This watch magnificently combines the inventive genius of the great watchmaker Ellicott with the work of one of the most renowned artists and enamellers of the 18th century, George Michael Moser. Moser was drawing master to George III and well known in England as the finest enameller and chaser of watch cases.

    Ellicott, London, An extremely fine gold and enamel pair cased half-quarter repeating watch with scene “The Borghese Dancers” by George Michael Moser, circa 1770, No. 6528. Estimate: £ 60,000–90,000.

  • Part II: John Harrison’s Enduring Discovery
    John Harrison, the man who found Longitude, is immortalised here in a watch made by his son-in-law James Barton. The portrait executed en grisaille enamel is attributed to George Michael Moser.

    James Barton, A historically important yellow gold pair cased verge watch with a portrait of John Harrison attributed to George Michael Moser No. 1420 circa 1771/2. Estimate: £200,000–400,000.

  • Part III: The Genius of Thomas Tompion
    Regarded as the greatest English clockmaker, Thomas Tompion pioneered many timekeeping mechanisms. His inventions were the foundations upon which 18th-century makers were to build in their successful searches for accuracy, especially with respect to determining longitude at sea.

    Thomas Tompion, A yellow gold pair cased quarter repeating watch, circa 1708. Estimate: £150,000–250,000.

  • Part IV: George Daniels, 20th Century Innovator
    The prestigious London family firm of Charles Frodsham & Co produced many highly complicated pieces. A superb example in this collection is a yellow gold minute repeating split second tourbillon watch, circa 1902/3 presented by the banker J. Pierpont Morgan to William Gould Harding when the latter was made a partner of the Morgan bank.

    Charles Frodsham, London, A fine yellow gold open-faced minute repeating split-seconds chronograph watch with one minute tourbillon and 60 minute register presented to William Gould Harding by J.P. Morgan, No 08920 Ad Fmsz circa 1902/3. Estimate: £150,000–250,000.

  • Part IV: George Daniels, 20th Century Innovator
    This collection of British horological masterpieces is completed by a one-minute spring-detent chronometer tourbillon watch by one of the greatest watchmakers of the 20th century, Dr. George Daniels. Not only did Daniels develop the co-axial escapement, the biggest development in horology since Thomas Mudge’s invention of the lever escapement in 1754, but he also mastered the 30 or so trades necessary to construct a watch entirely by hand.

    George Daniels, A gold one-minute spring-detent chronometer tourbillon watch, circa 1970. Estimate: £150,000–250,000.

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