In Time for Christmas! Gold Vintage Watches Fresh Stock.

Just in time for Christmas……..

We have just added a selection of high quality gold watches just in time for you to finish your Christmas shopping.

The selection includes a superb crisp and almost unused example of a high quality solid gold pocket watch by Waltham.  The watch is in almost perfect condition and even comes complete with its original presentation case and leather pouch.  An absolute bargain at £995.00


Continuing the trend of super crisp condition is this excellent little Omega dress watch.  The watch is in superb condition powered by an almost unmarked 265 caliber.


Completing the line-up is a brace of Jaeger Le Coultre gold dress watches.  These extremely high quality watches are vastly underrated and extremely good value when compared to their contemporary Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe models.




Thoughts on a watch fit for a trip to Mars

There are few names in Horology which really move the soul and inspire one to dream the dreams of a maker.  Breguet is one of them, and this particular name went on to inspire undoubtedly the finest watchmaker of our time.  George Daniels.  Much has been written on the output of this great man, and I don’t feel that I would do justice to begin describing the complexity and wonder of his creations, however I do feel compelled to highlight one of his most famous pieces – ‘The Space Travellers’ Pocket Watch’.

This watch has recently been truly in focus in the watch world following it’s recent sale where it reached a staggering £3.2 million.


This tour de force of horology was completed by Daniels following the sale of a previous version.  The first watch had a mechanical error in the calculation of the sidereal train, something which all clocks and watches containing this function had also been subject to.  This was improved on for the second watch with the help of Daniels friend, another Daniels, Professor Henry Daniels.  He managed to successfully design a train with ratios giving an accuracy in the calculation of 0.28 seconds per year.


Completed in 1982 the ‘Space Traveller’ has to be one of the finest and most important pocket watches of recent times.  Yes there are others,  you are probably screaming out at me “what about  the ‘Graves’ Patek?!” – the most complicated (and expensive) watch ever made at the time and selling most recently in 2014 for a whopping $24,000,000.



More recently still Vacheron Constantine have been busy and stolen the crown for the worlds most complicated watch by producing the magnificent 57260 containing a massive 57 complications.   Well yes both of these watches are deeply impressive and have quite rightly confirmed their places in Horological history, but neither of them are quite like a Daniels.


  The only watch that I can think of which comes close is the Breguet masterpiece made famously for Marie-Antoinette, but even this somehow lacks the essence captured by Daniels.  All of these watches, perfect and magnificent in their own ways, somehow lack the purity of thought and design displayed by Daniels.  I don’t believe that Daniels was striving to achieve super complication for the sake of it, or even for one upmanship, but simply as a way of improving a design which was open to improvement.

This clarity somehow makes the watch feel pure and honest, a quality which is surely the most super complication of them all.


Further reading:

You can view the original auction listing HERE

Hodinkee have a great in depth write up which can be found HERE

Details of the watch on the Daniels website can be found HERE


Singing Bird Cage Restoration.

We recently undertook a major restoration on this triple singing bird cage.

The cage as received was in a rather sorry state.  The birds were moth eaten and almost completely destroyed, the gilding tired with partially degraded lacquer, the base was knocked around and the movement rusty and non-functioning.

The images and video demonstrate the process of bringing this sweet object back to life.

The birds were re-feathered by a taxidermist as a Bullfinch, a Yellow Hammer and a Goldfinch.

The movement was fully restored, as was the base and the gilt cage sensitively cleaned and repaired.

I think the results speak for themselves.

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Clock of the Month March – Thomas Benniworth.

Well March has very nearly come and gone without me choosing a clock of the month. I’ve now put things right.  This months featured clock is this superb domestic regulator by Thomas Benniworth of St Albans.  The clock features a recoil anchor escapement which is unusual in a regulator such as this, especially a regulator which includes bolt type maintaining power.  The movement is very well constructed and includes many thoughtful and asthetic detials to its construction.  Timekeeping is kept stable by the substantial wood rod pendulum with large diameter brass bob and fine rating nut.  A very lovely clock currently gracing my office, however the Clock is for sale here

Thoughts on an interesting regulator with Epicyclic maintaining power.

John Brown – Southampton (Hants) 1830

Epicyclic maintaining power is a very rare feature.  Although used in turret clocks (mainly by Cooke and Sons of York), it is seen in only a handful of clocks of this type.  It was known to have been used by Cooke and Sons on a couple of their very fine astronomical regulators, and is fitted to two clocks by Vulliamy, one in the Royal collection, and the other in the Science museum.  The latter had originally been fitted with bolt and shutter maintaining power, however this was replaced by the epicyclic system suggesting that at the time the system must have been seen as a technical advancement and worth upgrading to.  Thought to have been first described by Cristiaan Huygens in 1683 it was in use in early watches and (in a modified form) seems to have been employed as a system to enable winding in both directions.   Both Thomas Reid and Lord Grimethorpe describe the system in their Treaties as follows:

“There is a very ancient way of going while winding, which was long applied to the fusees in clocks and watches.  On the inside of the great wheel is another wheel, whose teeth are cut to look inward to the centre, upon which acts a pinion of six, which runs in the bottom of the fusee, and is turned round with it.  The fusee arbor is free within both the great wheel and the fusee; upon it is fixed the fusee ratchet, and a wheel with about half the number of teeth of those in the inward toothed wheel.  It is evident, that if the fusee arbor is turned round, the wheel fixed on it, which acts also on the pinion of six, will by this make the pinion turn; and this again, acting on the inside wheel teeth, will apply as much force to it as the fusee requires in setting up.  When wound up, the click in the great wheel, as in the ordinary way, stops the fusee by the ratchet from running back.  This method takes six times longer of winding up than by the common way; and the great strain which is laid on the pinion and inside wheel teeth, soon destroys them.. With a little more apparatus, a fusee of this kind can be made to wind up whichever way the arbor is turned; hence it got the name of the drunken fusee.” – Thomas Reid – Treaties on Clock and Watch Making.

“There is another maintaining power which has a tempting and scientific look, but is not so good as it looks. A rim at the back of the great wheel, M (fig. 30), has internal teeth at A—troublesome things to make—and in them works a wheel ABP on a stud B in the end of the barrel, and also in a pinion C fixed on the arbor which runs loose through the barrel ends. When you wind up you apply some force P to the intermediate wheel, and the same pressure P is communicated to the great wheel because BP = BA, P being whatever is necessary to lift the weight. Let W be the effective weight at A when the clock is going: at B it is WCA CB = W0; and P = W0 2 , since AP = 2AB … P = W 2 CA CB; which cannot possibly = W, however small the winding pinion is, and if it is very small it takes a long time to wind. So this maintaining power must be deficient, though it may do for clocks with the common escapements, which will go for a few minutes with very little power on. Besides that, the winding arbor has to work under double friction of the pressure of twice W, both above and below it. For all these reasons I have never adopted it, either for large or small clocks.” – EDMUND BECKETT, LORD GRIMTHORPE – Clocks, Watches and Bells.

Fig 30 copy

Although obviously in use long before Harrisons superior invention, it would seem to have been viewed as unsatisfactory in the long term.  The properties of the transition of power through the satellite pinion on the inside of the great wheel makes it prone to extreme wear and jamming.

The clock we have just restored displayed just that fault.  The fixed pinion had a number of it’s teeth broken off and as a result it had been disabled.  Luckily the repairer had achieved this in a completely reversible way.  He had pinned the fixed pinion to the barrel thus stopping the arbor from rotating.  He had also removed the satellite pinion (presumably also broken) and thus easily converted the system to a conventional click.  This obviously left the clock with no form of maintaining power.  As this clock possesses a rather fine deadbeat escapement with a heavy pendulum it was thought to be a bad idea to leave it minus it’s maintain power and so we have restored the epicyclic system.

This involved making a new pair of pinions (in this example 1:1 count), removing the fixing pin and plugging the hole, and repairing the click and post. We made the new pinions of a hard grade of modern brass to help give some wear resistance to the set up.  Cast ‘yellow’ brass, although correct for the original construction would have been a very poor choice due to its soft and brittle (due to being very porous) character.


The clock is now restored to what must be one of only a very few working examples of a regulator with intact epicyclic maintaining power.

The pendulum on this clock is also of great interest.  It is of a design by Ward and is a serious attempt at compensation.  It has three rods, two of steel and an internal one of zinc.  The system is described in Rees’ Clocks Watches and Chronometers.


“In March of the year 1806, Mr Henry Ward, of Blandford Dorsetshire, communicated to the Society of Arts at the Adelphi, an account of a new compensation pendulum, accompanied by a model, which gained him the silver medal from the society.”

I have yet to see another example of this type pendulum, although a clock described as being by Ward, although signed by Francis Jones is known to exist and is described as employing “Ward’s own design of compensated pendulum, epicyclic maintain power and dead beat escapement”.  The discovery of the existence of this clock is most interesting as it presents the question – was our clock made by Ward?  If he was known to have sold at least one clock to be signed by another, which is described as being exactly the same specification as this one, then perhaps it’s a fair assumption that this clock was also signed by another.

Blandford (Wards home town) is some 42 miles west of Southampton and therefore not an inconceivable journey across the New forest for a suitably high grade clock from a prize-winning maker.

This has led to consideration of Wards work.  A clock is pictured in Roberts’ ‘English Precision Pendulum Clocks’ and displays some very similar characteristics.  The dial, although very different in design, is extremely similar in style with the engraving and hands both being very similar.  The case is also very similar, although not identical.

Henry Ward of Blandford was born in 1776 and lived to just thirty-nine years old.  He obviously possessed a considerable horological mind with three most interesting technical inventions to his name, including the pendulum used in this clock, for which he won a silver medal and five guinea prize!  His clocks were known to include many ingenious features.

Little is known of John Brown of Southampton, other than the fact he was working circa 1830.  It is estimated that this clock was made slightly before that date – circa 1815.  A clock such as this demonstrates that it was made by a serious maker working at the top of his trade.  The very fine (if slightly unusually designed) case demonstrates that this clock was obviously made as a fine astronomical instrument.  The movement is massively constructed and shows very fine workmanship and artistic detailing.  The technical inclusions such as the epicyclic maintaining power, rollers on the barrel bearings, and a serious compensating pendulum show that the maker was in touch with the leading advancements in this technology.  Why he didn’t use Harrisons maintaining power in 1830 is not known.  Perhaps he preferred the older system, or perhaps that was an advancement yet to make its way to his workshop.

All this gives the impression that this clock was made by Henry Ward and sold by, or perhaps made for John Brown of Southampton.   One could speculate that because this clock dates to around the time of Wards’ death, was it a stock piece sold off to another local maker to complete and sell?  The clock signed by Francis Jones may have a similar history.  Perhaps we will never find out for certain, however the search is on to find details of other examples of Ward’s work to help confirm this assumption.  I would be most grateful to hear from anyone who has any information on any of the makers mentioned.

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Reid, Thomas.  (1832) Treatise on Clock and Watch Making. Chapter II p275.

Thiout.  (1741) Traite d’Horlogerie Mechanique et Pratique. Vol II p333. Plate XXXVIII Fig. 14.

Roberts, Derek. (2003) Precision Pendulum Clocks. Chapter 4 p65. P88 fig 5-24

Roberts, Derek.  (2003)  English Precision Pendulum Clocks.  Chapter 7 p103 – 106 Fig 17-5A

Good, Richard.  (1998) Henry Ward of Blandford, Dorset.  Horological Journal.  May 1998 pp 156 -159

Good, Richard.  (1998) Henry Ward of Blandford, Dorset 2.  Horological Journal.  June 1998 pp 192 -195


Clock of the Month February – James McCabe Library Clock.

This month there is really no contest for clock of the month, it just has to be this superb example of a small library clock by the master of this type of clock James McCabe.

The elegant Mahogany case is discretely brass lined and features really nice touches such as the scrolled columns and sprung door.  The case is numbered with the matching movement and dial numbers.

The movement is superb quality and really does resemble a chronometer set out as a mantle clock.  The platform is a large English type exhibition platform, gilded and with underslung lever escapement.  The balance is plain flat and is also gilded.

The engraving on the exquisite silvered dial really is top notch.

The perfect addition to any desk this little clock really is not one to be missed.


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A tale of a clock an airship and two sisters……..

It’s the evening of September 23rd 1916 and the Black Swan public house on the corner of Bow Road and Bromley High Street was winding down after the usual bustle of a Saturday evening.  The landlords two daughters Cissy and Sylvia were just finishing cleaning up when they heard the sirens………. 

Zeppelin L33 a German dirigible of massive construction was raiding England that night.  It had begun its raid in the late afternoon under the command of Kapitanleutnant der Reserve Alios Bocker and was one of 12 navy airships led by Heinrich Mathy in command of L31.

They had taken a route over the southern English coast to capitalise on a strong tailwind picking up speed and hoping to be helped past the worst of the flack as they approached London.

L33 dropped several incendiaries over Upminster setting fire to a lumber yard and an oil depositary. The anti-aircraft guns returned fire and L33 sustained a direct hit when a British shell exploded directly inside one of the hydrogen cells.  For some reason the gas failed to ignite and began to escape.  The aircraft had been travelling at around 13000 feet but now began to rapidly loose altitude.  In an attempt to regain control the crew shed as much weight as they could by jettisoning the water ballast before proceeding to drop all its remaining bombs on Botolph Road, Bow Road and Bromley at around midnight.  Amongst other buildings, a row of houses was destroyed killing six people.

As L33 made its way towards Chelmsford it came under brief fire from a BE2c piloted by RFC pilot 2nd Lt Alfred de Bath Brandon, MC.  He had been shadowing the airship before the exchange however no further damage resulted.

Despite the crews best efforts L33 was forced to land at around 1:15 in fields near New Hall Farm cottages.

Bocker ordered his crew to destroy the ship to prevent the technology from falling into enemy hands.  They set fire to the sensitive documents on board by pouring fuel into the control gondola.  They then fired a flare into the remaining hydrogen hoping it would ignite.  It didn’t.  It merely leaked out in a giant candle like flame into the sky.

The crew then marched away with the intention of making it to the docks. Along their way they were approached by Special Constable Edgar Nicholas.  Bocker (in perfect English) informed Nicholas that they were on a special mission and even asked him how far it was to Colchester.

Nicholas continued to follow the group before on reaching Peldon he was joined by Special Constable Elijah Taylor and Sergeant Ernest Edwards  The group were escorted to Peldon police station where they were arrested by PC Charles Smith.

In the early hours of the 24th a doctor had attended the birth of a little girl at one of the cottages near the crash site.  On leaving the hose and seeing the wreck he is reported to have told the mother, a Mrs Clarke, that she should call the little girl Zeppalina – she did!

Unfortunately the Black Swan took a direct hit that night killing both Cissy and Sylvia.  It was rebuilt in 1920 before being pulled down later in the century.


I came to look into the history of L33 following recently handling a most unusual clock.  The clock itself is quite basic, a single train movement typical of the brand HAC.  The interest is in the case which is made from a re-purposed propeller – trench art.   The propeller bears a plate reading ‘L33 Sept 1916’.

It just goes to show how much history can be carried by such a modest object as a clock.

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Further reading: