With an associated John McLennan presentation box.
John Osbourne McLennan (1814-1886) was born in Dingwall, north of Inverness, Scotland. A highly accomplished maker, he worked for James McCabe junior and Charles Frodsham. He is reputed to have invented the duo-in-uno balance spring which was challenged by A.P. Walsh, however, as Tony Mercer notes in his book Chronometer Markers of the World, "W. B. Crisp suggests that A.P. Walsh saw them at an exhibition of 1862 went home and copied them, then immediately had them displayed in his own showcase" [see op. cit. Revised Edition, 2004, p. 197]. The 1862 International Exhibition mentioned on the present watch's movement was held in South Kensington, London, on a site that now houses the Natural History and Science museums. Given the hallmark date and extreme rarity of this watch, it would seem certain that this is the same chronometer shown at the exhibition by McLennan and which A.P. Walsh must have seen. Following the exhibition, McLennan would have arranged to retrospectively engrave the backplate of his movement to commemorate his achievement.
In a letter to Antiquarian Horology (December 1984), it was stated that McLennan's miniature chronometer watch, made for the 1862 Exhibition, was sold to Alexander Baird of Urie Castle for 265 Guineas in 1862 [see Antiquarian Horology, No. 2, Vol. 15, December 1984, p.174]. At the time of its auction at Christie’s in 2011, it was noted that this watch had remained in one family for three generations.
The Horological Journal of January 1887 (pp. 78-79) gave a short obituary of John McLennan as follows: "To complete the horological obituary for 1886 must be recorded the death of probably the best all-round watchmaker of our times, Mr. John McLennan, who, at the age of 72, succumbed to a complication of internal disorders at the end of November, was engaged for many years on the finest class of work for McCabe, Charles Frodsham and other famous houses. He exhibited in the 1862 Exhibition, as the production of his own hands throughout, certainly the smallest pocket chronometer ever made, the movement being the size of a shilling; the balance spring was a duo in uno - a form in which the bottom of the spring is a volute, rising from the outer end of which is a helix. Mr. McLennan claimed to be the inventor of the duo in uno, but the originality of this conception was challenged, we believe, by both Mr. Walsh and Mr. Hammersley. However, the style of Mr. McLennan's work, the clean handling and the superb finish, but induced a spirit of emulation that did much to advance the character of English watchmaking."
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