The present lot is among the largest of watches built by S. Smith & Sons. Thus, this piece 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.
Another similarly sized complicated example is a special order double dialled astronomical watch by Audemars Piguet started in 1914 and completed in 1920, which had 15 complications. The present lot, No. 309-2 is also very similar to a watch by E. Dent, which at 72 mm. in diameter, has nearly an identical dial layout. However, the dial of the Dent was executed solely in white enamel, unlike the dial seen here, with its unusual tri-colour dial. Interestingly, Dent produced that watch for the famous collector James Ward Packard of Warren, Ohio. For an image of the Dent watch, see Fried, The Museum of the American Watchmakers Institute, the cover, and p. 89, exhibition no. P-19.
It is possible to speculate that the intended purchaser of the present lot may have been an astronomer, and would have required a clearly legible dial in order to take measurements. The dial bears similarity to and possibly takes inspiration from the famous astronomical watches by Jacob Auch, who worked in Stuttgart in the early 19th century. The colouration of the present lot most notably resembles some of the Auch pieces. For an example of a watch by Auch, see Sotheby's New York, Masterpieces from the Time Museum Part II, 19 June 2002, lot 53.
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