A R T I S T S
& M E T H O D S & H O R
O L O G I C A L L E X I C O N
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Act of Parliament clock.
English tavern clocks are
often named an 'Act of Parliament clock' due to the tax imposed on clocks
and watches in July 1797. The 'Act' was hand-written on a scroll and
duties on clocks and watches
to His Majesty (George III)
summary of the very lengthy Act:
It imposed a duty of 5 shilling on every clock, 10 shiling on every
gold watch and 2s.6d. on every silver or other metal watch. The
appointed assessors had to have notice at every place where a clock or
watch might be used to require its occupiers to make a list of all
clocks and watches held by them within fourteen days. If the
householder neglected to make out the list, the assessors had the
right to assess him by any information they could obtain; this
assessment was final unless proved wrong. If an omission was found in
a list then the assessors could charge double the duty as a surcharge
on top of the normal rate and the assessor was entitled to keep half
of the surcharge. It was intended that the first assessment should be
made for three quarters of a year from 5th July until 5th April and
thereafter yearly, although the actual payments were quarterly. The
penalties for not delivering a list or declaration, or for not
declaring the owning of a clock or watch, were heavy, the fine being
£10 for every offence. The duty, however, did not extend to clocks
that were sold for less than 20shilling or to the Royal family,
ambassadors, House of Parliament, hospitals or churches. Pawnbrokers,
dealers and makers of clocks and watches were exempt but had to
register and pay an annual licence. The fee was 2s.6d. in the City of
London, Westminster, Mary-le-Bone, Saint Pancras or Southwark, but for
some reason was only 1s. elsewhere. The penalty for not registering
The Act was very
difficult to enforce and led to a dramatic decline in the horological
trades. After intense lobbying it was repealed, nine months after it had
been enforced and at the end of the three quarter period on April 1798.
The name 'Act of Parliament clock' is a misnomer as the particular design
of the tavern clocks had ceased to be made at the time the 'Act' was
passed in 1797.
Source: English Dial clocks, R.E. Rose.
Age of the moon
Amplitude. The distance between the two
extreme points of a movement or periodic phenomenon.
Annual calendar (watch)
Applied chapter (Applique)
A synonym of axle. A toothed wheel is fixed to the arbor, which is usually
cylindrical, and both revolve.
French term for the three parts of the escapement (escape-wheel,
lever and roller). Generally, specialist companies supply
watchmakers with the lever assortment.
Atmos (portraits) In 1928 a
Neuchatel engineer called Jean-Leon Reutter built a clock driven quite
literally by air. But it took the Jaeger-LeCoultre workshop a few more
years to convert this idea into a technical form that could be patented.
And to perfect it to such a degree that the Atmos practically achieved
perpetual motion. In 1936 the Manufacture began production of the Atmos.
The technical principle is a beguiling one: inside a hermetically sealed
capsule is a mixture of gas and liquid (ethyl chloride) which expands as
the temperature rises and contracts as it falls, making the capsule move
like a concertina. This motion constantly winds the mainspring, a
variation in temperature of only one degree in the range between 15 and 30
degrees centigrade being sufficient for two days' operation.
To convert this small amount of energy into motion, everything inside the
Atmos naturally has to work as smoothly and quietly as possible. The
balance, for example, executes only two torsional oscillations per minute,
which is 150 times slower that the pendulum in a conventional clock. So
it's not surprising that 60 million Atmos clocks together consume no more
energy that one 15-watt light bulb.
All its other parts, too, are not only of the highest precision, but also
practically wear-free. An Atmos can therefore expect to enjoy a service
life of a good 600 years, although with today's air pollution we
regrettably have to recommend a through cleaning every 20 years or so.
Admirers of advanced technology, however, aren't the only ones who get
their money's worth. Connoisseurs of elegant forms, precious materials and
traditional craftsmanship, do so as well. Because every Atmos is still
made entirely by hand; and with some models a single clock takes a whole
month to produce. Not counting the five weeks of trial and adjustment that
every Atmos has to undergo. Only then, are the Jaeger-LeCoultre
master-watchmakers happy enough with the state of things to confirm it
with a signature and allow another Atmos to leave the workshop. After
which, many end up in the very best homes, because for decades now the
world's most celebrated watch-making country has been presenting its
distinguished guests with this masterpiece of Swiss artistry.
The Atmos has had the honour to be associated with great statesmen,
royalty, and other renowned people including John F. Kennedy, Sir Winston
Churchill, General Charles De Gaulle, and Charlie Chaplin.
#10000-25000 early production run
#25000-300000 made in the 1950's and 1960's
#300000-550000 are the 1970's
More on Atmos:
Autonomy, The length of time a
clock or watch can function between windings.
III (d. 1772)
As one of the leading makers of his day,
Jean-Baptiste Baillon III (d. 1772) only used the finest dials such as
this one made by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière (1706-84) and cases supplied
by the finest makers of his day such as Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain.
Other case makers included Jean-Baptiste Osmond, Balthazar Lieutaud, the
Caffieris, Vandernasse and Edmé Roy, while Chaillou executed some of his
enamel work. Baillon was undoubtedly the most famous member of a long line
of clockmakers and one of the most significant makers of the eighteenth
century. His importance was largely due to his business acumen and the way
in which he organized a vast and thriving manufactory on an unprecedented
scale. His private factory in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which was managed
from 1748-57 by Jean Jodin (1715-61) and continued until 1765 when Baillon
closed it, was unique in the history of eighteenth century clockmaking.
The renowned horologist, Ferdinand Berthoud was among many to be impressed
by its scale and quality and in 1753 noted "His [Baillon's] house is the
finest and richest Clock Shop. Diamonds are used not only to decorate his
Watches, but even Clocks. He has made some whose cases were small gold
boxes, decorated with diamond flowers imitating nature…His house in
Saint-Germain is a kind of factory. It is full of Workmen continually
labouring for him…for he alone makes a large proportion of the Clocks and
Watches [of Paris]". From there he supplied the most illustrious
clientele, not least the French and Spanish royal family, the Garde-Meuble
de la Couronne as well as distinguished members of Court and the cream of
Baillon's father, Jean-Baptiste II (d. 1757) a Parisian maître and his
grandfather, Jean-Baptiste I from Rouen were both clockmakers as was his
own son, Jean-Baptiste IV Baillon (b. 1752 d. circa 1773). Baillon himself
was received as a maître-horloger in 1727. 1738 saw his first important
appointment as Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire de la Reine. He was
then made Premier Valet de Chambre de la Reine sometime before 1748 and
subsequently Premier Valet de Chambre and Valet de Chambre-Horloger
Ordinaire de la Dauphine to Marie-Antoinette, 1770. His Parisian addresses
were appropriately Place Dauphine by 1738 and rue Dauphine after 1751.
Through his success, Jean-Baptiste Baillon amassed a huge fortune, valued
at the time of his death, 8th April 1772 at 384,000 livres. His own
collection of fine and decorative arts were auctioned on 16th June 1772,
while his remaining stock, which was valued at 55,970 livres, was put up
for sale on 23rd February 1773. The sale included 126 finished watches,
totalling 31,174 livres and 127 finished watch movements at 8,732 livres.
There were also 86 clocks, 20 clock movements, seven marquetry clock
cases, one porcelain clock case and eight bronze cases of which seven had
elephant figures totalling 14,618 livres. To give some idea of the extent
of his enterprise the watch movements had reached 4320 and clock movements
3808 in number.
Today we can admire Baillon's work in some of the world's most prestigious
collections including the Parisian Musées du Louvre, des Arts Décoratifs,
National des Techniques, de Petit Palais and Jacquemart-André. Other
examples can be found at Château de Versailles; Musée Paul Dupuy,
Toulouse; the Residenz Bamberg; Neues Schloss Bayreuth; Museum für
Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt; the Residenzmuseum Munich and Schleissheim
Schloss. Further collections include the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire
Brussels; Patrimonio Nacional Spain; the Metropolitan Museum, New York;
Newark Museum; Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore and Dalmeny House, South
Bailly (d. after 1818)
As one of the leading clockmakers during the Empire, Bailly was appointed Clockmaker to the Emperor Napoleon and was one of the main suppliers to the Imperial Garde-Meuble. He was also responsible for the maintenance of clocks at Chateau Compiegne and the Trianons, Versailles. Examples of his work can be seen at Compiegne, Fontainebleau and the Trianons as well as in notable French museums - the Louvre, Musee Marmottan, Musee de la Legion d'Honneur and the Garde-National, Paris. Pierre-Philippe Thomire, Claude Galle and others supplied very beautiful cases for his clocks.
Biographie (par André Thiry) : _ Gille 1 De Beefe,
descendant d'une lignée d'habiles horlogers originaires de
Befve-lez-Thimister,. is born the 4 octobre 1694. Possédant une grande maîtrise
en horlogerie et en mécanique, en 1726, il s'installe à Liège. Le roi
du Portugal, en 1733, lui commande deux horloges avec carillons pour le
palais de Mafra. En compagnie de Jean Debefve (son cousin) qui remplaça
son frère Nicolas (pour une raison à ce jour unknowne), ils se rendent
dans cette ville pour y diriger les opérations de montage. Il fit également
le carillon de la cathédrale de Lisbonne. Le 28 september 1739 revenu
dans son pays et s'y étant perfectionné, Gille obtient du prince - évêque,
George Louis de Berghes, " un octroi exclusif pour faire et vendre au
Pays de Liège et Comté de Looz des montres à secondes, minutes, sans
roues de champ " 2. En 1740, cette invention lui vaut le titre
d'horloger de Son Altesse le Prince et en 1752, il est nommé horloger de
la cathédrale Saint-Lambert. En 1754, il conclut une convention avec le
chapitre de la cathédrale afin de construire une nouvelle horloge dotée
d'un carillon. L'ouvrage terminé est si parfait qu'il reçoit une
Gille de Beefe est décédé le 16 september 1763; Il est donc impossible
de lui attribuer l'horloge de l'église saint Servais à Maestricht.
P; Th. R. Mestrom dans son ouvrage "Limburgse klokken en hun
Makers" Maastricht, 1997 page 82, annonce de beefe François
1718-1784, fils de Gille de Beefe comme le réalisateur de cette horloge.
La date de naissance (François) 4 december 1718, fils de Gille,
correspond avec les données de cet historien.
François, maître carillonneur - horloger à l'âge de 49 ans va
entreprendre la fabrication de l'horloge de l'église saint Servais à
Maestricht situé à 30 km de Thimister.
Le 16/08/1745, il est surveillant et réparateur des horloges des tours de
la ville. à cette époque, Maestricht faisait partie de la principauté
Les pièces d'horlogerie que l'on attribue à François de Beefe à
Maestricht sont postérieures à la date de sa rentrée du Portugal à
Thimister le 30/09/1739.
A titre d'anecdote : la machine à carillonner de la cathédrale saint
Lambert porte la mention "G. et N. de Beefe 1756". Lors de la révolution
liégeoise en 1794, la cathédrale Saint Lambert fut détruite. Le
carillon survécu et fut réinstallé dans le clocher de la cathédrale
Saint Paul. Il refonctionna pour la première fois le 6 august 1813 à
l'occasion du passage à Liège de l'impératrice Marie-Louise.
Certains éléments de cette biographie proviennent de messieurs Florent
Pholien (†) et Pierre Guérin.
Ferdinand Berthoud 1)
The quest for accurate timekeeping owes much to his numerous inventions, innovations and writings.
He was born in Plancemont, Switzerland, the son of an architect and judiciary. In 1741 he
began a three year apprenticeship as a clockmaker under his brother, Jean-Henri. He
subsequently went to Paris, where it is thought he studied under the eminent clockmaker,
Julien Le Roy (1686-1759). Even before he attained his mastership in 1754 he had begun
to establish great repute. In 1752 Berthoud, aged 25 was invited to present to the Académie
des Sciences a clock he had made which had a perpetual calendar and also indicated mean
and solar time. It was received with great acclaim. He made his first marine chronometer in
1754 (sent for trial in 1761) and in 1764 was appointed "Horloger Mécanicien de sa Majesté
et de la Marine ayant l'inspection de la construction des horloges Marines".
The position was of considerable importance especially at a time when the race to find longitude (and
thus a means of measuring time accurately at sea) was the social and political talk of
From 1766 Berthoud was put in charge of designing all timepieces used on board
the French royal fleet. In the same year he was made a member of the Royal Society
London and was later appointed a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.
Berthoud not only made numerous complex and quality pieces but also wrote over 4000
pages on the subject. He was a great innovator whose most notable inventions included a
bimetallic compensating balance and a detent escapement. His clocks and watches have
rightly been described at the cutting edge of horological invention. His work is prized by
major private collectors and museum curators including those at the Metropolitan Museum
and Frick Collection, New York and at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers and Mobilier
National, Paris. The Wallace Collection, London; the National Museum, Stockholm and
the Mathematische Physikalische Salon, Dresden also represent his oeuvre.
1729: born in Le Locle (Switzerland)
1745: Went to Paris to Julien LE ROY
1771: Horloger de la marine
Devised the spring detent probably independently of EARNSHAW.
1759: Published: 'L'Art de régler les pendules,' .
1763: Published: 'Essai sur l'Horlogerie,'
1773: Published: 'Traité des Horloges Marines,
1773: Published: Éclaircissements sur l'Invention des Horloges Marines? .
1775: Published: 'Les Longitudes par la mesure du Temps,'
1787: Published: 'Histoire de la Mesure du Temps,'
1792: Published: 'Traité des Montres à Longitudes,'
1797: Published: 'Suite du Traité des Montres à Longitudes,'
1802: Published: 'Histoire de la mesure du Temps,'
1807: Published: 'Supplément au Traité des Montres à Longitudes,'
Clockmaker to the King and the Marine.
Membre de l'Institute F.R.S. London.
Made first chronometer 1754, sent for trial 1761.
More about Berthoud:
Ferdinand Berthoud, Julien le Roy and Breguet are the three most famous names in
Berthoud was born at Plancement, commune de Couvet, caton de Neuchâtel,
Switzerland, on 19 March 1727. His father, an architect and magistrate of the
Val de Travers, had at first destined him for an ecclesiastical career, but as
at a very early age he showed interest in mechanical matters, he decided to have
him taught clockmaking. At the age of 14 Ferdinand was apprenticed to his
brother Jean Henri.
When he was 19, he borrowed 200 livres to go to Paris, where another brother,
Jean-Jaques, a designer, was already established. It is thought that he worked
for Julien Le Roy for some time, before settings up his own workshop in the rue
du Harley, not far from the house in which the latter was still working. At this
time he made the acquaintance of Piere Le Roy, who, throughout his career, was
his only rival.
In 1752 he presented to the Academy of Science an equation watch with a
His knowledge of mathematics and physics, together with his ability to impress
the authorities with his capacities, enabled him in 1764 to obtain the office of
"Horloger de la Marine Royale" (Clockmaker toe the Royal Navy), with
an annual pension of 3000 livres, which ensured, with his other activities, An
average income of 7,500 livres a year. By order of the King, he went twice to
England, with Camus and Lalande, to examine John Harrison's marine clocks.
Although he was able to study clocks number 1, 2, and 3 Harrison refused to show
him clock number 4. After having learnt some English,, during his second
journey, in 1766, Berthoud obtained from Thomas Mudge, who, with Kendall and
Matthews, belonged to the committee responsible for examining Harrison's watch
number 4, which allowed him to enlarge his own researches. He then undertook the
construction of his own marine clocks 6 and 8, which were taken to Rochefort,
and handed over on 3 November 1768 to Eveux de Fleurieu, commanding the frigate
Isis, who, assisted by the astronomer Pingré, was to test them during a voyage
on he high seas.
The precision instruments that he invented enabled Berthoud to perfect a
rigorous experimental technique, adopted bu all his successors, and particularly
by his nephew Pierre Louis Berthoud.
He can be criticised for having sought to appropriate the important discoveries
concerning marine watches made by Pierre le Roy, his celebrated rival. However,
it would be unfair to think that Ferdinand Berthoud's considerable quantity of
work did not contribute to the progress of chronometry.
We owe to him many experimental marine watches, most of which, purchased
by the Government, are preserved in the Musée National des Techniques
(C.N.A.M.), Paris. They include watches and clockes with equation of time,
seconds watches, and superb astronomical longcase clocks fitted with compensated
pendulums which he invented. All the timepieces that he made show his great
dexterity, and the exceptional quality of his execution.
He left many documents on clockmaking, printed at State expense, in which his
experiments and intentions are described in great detail. From a small pamphlet,
published in 1759 under title L'art de coduire et r´´gler lres pendules et
les montres à l'usage de cuex qui n'ont aucune connaissance d'horogerie,
which went into six editions between 1759 and 1836, without counting Henri
Robert's edition of 1841 and the numerous translations into different languages,
to his Supplement au traité des horloges marines...published in the year
of his death 1807, the written work of Ferdinand Berthoud covers more than 400
pages, illustrated by over 120 plates, engraved from drawings by the author.
He died on 20 June 1807, in his property at Groslay, near Montmorency, leaving
no children. He married twice, firstly Mademoiselle Chati of Cean, and then
Mademoiselle Dumoustier of Saint Quentin.
Ferdinand Berthoud was appointed, in succession, Clockmaker to the Navy, Member
of the Institute of France, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Chevalier
of the Légion d'Honneur. The State paid him an annual pension of 3000 livres
until the day of his death. His name figures among those of great men engraved
on the facade of the Palace of Industry.
His chief pupils were Jacques and Vincent Martin, and particularly his nephew
Pierre Louis Berthoud.
Pierre Louis Berthoud
Pierre-Louis Berthoud (1754-1813), known as Louis was a very important clockmaker and an ingenious scientist. His father, Pierre was a clockmaker but Louis trained under his highly esteemed uncle, Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807) and later succeeded Ferdinand’s business. Like his uncle, Louis was particularly interested in precision horology specialising in making regulators, over 150 chronometers as well as clocks and watches. He was appointed as clockmaker to the Observatoire and to the Bureau de Longitude. He won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition, l’an X (1800/1) and wrote ‘Entretiens sur l’horlogerie”.
Jean Simon Bourdier
JEAN-SIMON BOURDIER (c. 1760-1839)
One of the most innovative clockmakers of his time, Jean-Simon Bourdier became a maitre horloger in Paris on 22 September 1787. He is recorded as working in the rue des Precheurs in 1787, quai de 1'Horloge du Palais circa 1790, rue Mazarine in 1801, rue Saint-Saveur in 1812 and rue Saint-Denis in 1830. He gained a silver medal in the 1806 and 1879 produits de I'industrie exhibitions.
He is known to have worked with the ebenistes Lieutaud and Riesener as well as the bronziers Galle, Thomire and Remond. his dials were painted by the emailleurs Dubuisson and Coteau. His clocks were also sold by the dealers Daguerre -and Lignereux and
Breguet 1754-1823 Breguet
1747: born at Neuchatel, 1823:
Started in Paris 1776, but watch No. 1 is of 1787. Breguet attracted the
attention of Louis XV and set up in Paris on the quai de l'Horloge. He
became a member of the Academy des Science. Very soon Kings, Princes and
European celebrities were buying his watches. Breguet made the first
"perfect&hibar; automatic watch, capable of running for eight years
without being overhauled and without going slow. This watch still keeps
perfect time today. Breguet's inventions meant that it was possible from
then on to make watches accurate to within a tenth of a second. Thanks to
him, considerable progress was made in marine navigation, astronomy and
physics, and his contemporaries began to look at the time in the way you
look at a jewel. Breguet signed his watches in the way that Boulle signed
his furniture and Rembrandt his paintings.
The extra-flat watch was one of Breguet's inventions. The perpetual or
automatic watch, the perfecting of so-called "multiple complication"
watches, the balance spring, were all Breguet. The "tact" watch, the
constant-force escapement and the tourbillon watch were also by him. It
would take hours to list all his inventions. Many watches bearing his name
were made outside and finished in his workshop. There are innumerable
watches being his name in forgery. He made many improvements, including
the parachute ca.1790, and the tourbillon in 1801, also many self-winding
watches. He was the first to make lever escapement with lift partly on the
pallets and partly on the teeth. The overcoil balance spring is known by
his name. Draw was absent from early levers, but used after 1814.
Most important collections contain genuine and forged watches. The late
Sir David Salomons had a collection of 102 watches and 6 clocks by
Subscription watches: British Museum, London, Guildhall Museum. British
Science Museum, S. Kensington
Striking cylinder watch and musical. repetition. cylinder watch: British
Science Museum.S. Kensington
Tourbillon watches: Guildhall Museum and Ilbert collection. The latter, of
1808, was the first made.
Verge watch: Dennison collection.
Pedometer winding repetition watch No. 27 (1791), several watches and
pedometer: Ilbert collection,
Regulators: Buckingham Palace and Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, Paris
A small workshop in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Geneva, on the
top floor of a house where there was the most natural light.
A workman employed by a cabinet. A cabinotier was not necessarily a
watchmaker. He could be a jeweller, engraver, stonecutter, etc.,
provided he worked for a cabinet and was employed in watchmaking.
Jacques Caffieri (1678-1755) was the tenth son of Phillippe Caffieri
[1634-1716], who emigrated from Naples at the request of Cardinal Mazarin
to decorate the interiors at Versailles. He was elected to the Académie de
Sainte-Luc as a sculptor, and thus created many of the original designs
that were proprietary models of his foundry. From 1736, when he was
appointed fondeur-ciseleur des Bâtiments du Roi, Caffieri remained in the
employ of the French Crown. His most famous work is the large astronomical
clock, its movement designed by Passemont and made by Dauthiau, which was
completed in 1753 for the Cabinet de la Pendule at Versailles. Pierre
Verlet notes that Caffieri typically signed bronzes destined for the
More on Caffieri:
C couronné, Control
stamp on French bronzes. The "C" stands for copper (cuivre), and this
stamp was used on alloys containing copper to denote that a tax had been
paid between 1745 and 1749.
A. Caron 1732-1799
An enamelling technique in which the outline of the subject is formed by
thin flat metal wires set on the surface to be enamelled to form cells.
These cells are filled with enamel and fired. After polishing, the wires
bring out the subject or pattern that is set in the enamel. Cloisonné is
used to describe both the technique and the end result.
Salomon Coster, a famous Dutch maker born in Haarlem before 1623, moved to
The Hague shortly after his marriage in 1643. Like several Haarlem
clockmakers, he was an Anabaptist. In 1646 Pieter Visbagh was apprenticed
to him for six years, and in 1657 Christiaan Reijnaert for ten years. In
the same year Christiaan Huygens allowed him ('met privilege') to make and
sell pendulum clocks. In this year John Fromanteel came from London and
worked with Coster for at least eight months, but probably much longer,
followed by Nicolas Hanet from Paris in 1658. Salomon Coster died suddenly
in December of 1659 and the following year the shop was taken over from
Coster’s widow by Pieter Visbagh.
Ref: Dr. R. Plomp, Spring driven Dutch pendulum clocks 1657-1710.
JOSEPH COTEAU (1740-1801) Joseph Coteau was born in 1740, probably in Geneva and died in Paris on 21 January 1801. He became
maitre-pintre-emailleur at the
Academic de Saint-Luc in Geneva on 6 November 1766 and was installed in rue Poupee, Paris by 1772. Coteau is celebrated not only for his skill in decorating enamelled dials but also as a skilled miniaturist. He discovered a new method for fixing raised gold on porcelain and worked closely with the
Sevres manufactory in developing their so-called "jewelled" porcelain.
A cycloid is the curve defined by the path of a point on the edge of a
circular wheel as the wheel rolls along a straight line. It is an
example of a roulette, a curve generated by a curve rolling on another
John Dent 1790-1853
(b. 1731 d. after 1815)
known as Dubuisson, who with Coteau was the finest of his
trade. After living in Luneville and Strasbourg, Dubuisson worked at
Chantilly. In 1756 he was employed at Sevres as a flower painter, specialising in enamelling watch cases and clock
Equation of Time
Along with the transition from telling time with sundials to telling time
with clocks, people realized that the time from one noon to the next was
not constant. Part of the jargon invented to deal with the situation is
"sun time", the time a sundial would tell, and "mean time", the time an
accurate clock would tell. The difference between the two is an error that
has come to be called the "Equation of Time". It is usually described as a
table, plotted as the error vs. the Sun's declination, or plotted a graph
of error vs. date:
See full equation
by Claude Raillard a Paris 1718.
(master 1691, d.1762)
1) ADMIRAL ROBERT FITZROY
(By Charles Edwin inc.)
Robert Fitzroy, son of Lord Charles, was born at Ampton Hall, Suffolk, in
1805 and entered the Navy at the age of 12. During his long career, he was
for many years Captain of the HMS Beagle which achieved fame as a result of
Charles Darwin's expeditions. He eventually rose to the rank of Admiral, was
elected Member of Parliament for Durham in 1841, and appointed Governor of
New Zealand in 1843.
At his retirement from active service in 1850, he turned his attention to
the science of meteorology. Among his considerable accomplishments, he
induced the Times to print weather information on a daily basis and the
Board of Trade to supply many coastal villages with barometers. He designed
a vastly improved marine barometer.
In 1862 he published his Weather Book
which summarized his extensive and immensely important work on meteorology.
To the barometer collector, he is most remembered for consolidating weather
information and presenting his now classic Remarks, which distinguish the
barometer carrying his name, that interpret the meaning of rising or falling
mercury. He coined a useful phrase which is as good today as it was then:
"Long foretold - Long Last Short notice - Soon Past"
Admiral Fitzroy's Barometers were not designed by and were probably never
seen by Admiral Fitzroy who took his own life in 1865 before the earliest
known Fitzroys were made.
ADMIRAL FITZROY'S BAROMETER
By far the best known type of barometer ever produced was called Admiral
Fitzroy's Barometer and was the first inexpensive and serviceable barometer
made by mass-production methods. The earliest Fitzroys were made in the late
1860s, so it is probable that Fitzroy himself, who died by his own hand in
1865, never saw one.
Common to these large late-19th century instruments is the degree of
detailed information concerning not only the rise and fall of pressure, but
of associated conditions of temperature and direction of the wind. His
remarks, carried on most barometers, emphasize the fact that the state of
the air, as shown by the barometer, tells coming rather than present weather
Typical ancillary instruments include a Fahrenheit thermometer and a storm
glass. Storm glasses have been known since the 17th century but came into
general use with the Fitzroy barometer. Clamped onto the lower left, these
are glass cylinders with brass caps. The contents are a mixture of camphor,
ammonia, alcohol, potassium nitrate, and water, which reacts to air
pressure, wind direction, and electrical charge of the air.
Typical readings and the predicted weather:
Clear liquid . . . . Good, fine weather
Crystals at bottom . . . . Frost in winter
Turbid liquid (substance rising) . . Rain
Turbid liquid with crystals. . . . Thunder
Large crystals. . . . Close weather, cloudy skies, snow
Chains of crystals at the top . . . . Windy weather
Substance lies to one side . . . . Storm or wind from other direction
Copyright 1996-1999 © by Charles Edwin Inc.
2) About ADMIRAL
Admiral Robert Fitzroy was one of the first to attempt a scientific weather
forecast, introducing the first daily weather forecasts which were published
in The Times in 1860. He began his career in the navy and was famous for
choosing Charles Darwin as a companion during the voyage on the Beagle. As a
sailor, Fitzroy had always been aware of the importance of forecasting the
Once he had completed his famous journey, he took up the newly created post
of Head of Meteorology at the Board of Trade (the Met Office) and began to
collate the information necessary to predict the weather. Using the newly
invented electric telegraph, Fitzroy managed to receive data quickly enough
to make a forecast viable.
Fitzroy's name was associated with several different types of barometers,
though whether he could be called the inventor of all of them is
One version of the barometer of which he was responsible for the designing
and distribution, was used by sailors prior to sailing. Fitzroy advocated
placing a barometer at every port so that seamen could read them before
embarking on their journeys. Decisions on whether to sail or not were able
to be made based on the level of the mercury within the instrument, saving
The Fitzroy barometers were enormously popular, both because of their ease
of use and their association with the highly respected Admiral Fitzroy. This
interest continued into the twentieth century.
Some of the components added onto the Fitzroy Barometers included bottle
tubes, storm glasses, thermometers and Fitzroy's instructions for
interpreting the results.
Unfortunately Admiral Robert Fitzroy never felt completely satisfied by his
achievements. Though he had saved many lives by his advances in forecasting
the weather, he had a conflict with his conscience and his religious
beliefs. This he never resolved in life and at the age of sixty he committed
suicide by cutting his throat.
Picture of Fitzroy
Gregorian calendar (
calendrier grégorien )
introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to reform the Julian calendar. The
majority of countries refer to the Gregorian calendar. It has 365¼ days. A
non-leap year has 7 months each with 31 days, 4 months with 30 days, and 1
month with 28 days (29 days in a leap year). It is a solar calendar, based
on the movement of the sun.
Under the Julian
calendar, the year was 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the solar
year. By 1582 the accumulated difference came to 10 days. The Gregorian
calendar introduced the following system: each year that can be divided by
four is a leap year.
Century years are leap years only if they are evenly divisible by four
hundred. Hence 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years whereas 2000 was.
1582: On Friday October 15th (which came
after Thursday October 4th in the Julian Calendar), Italy, Spain,
Portugal, France and the Catholic Dutch provinces implemented the
Gregorian Calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII.
1584: Austria, Germany and Catholic
1648: Alsace (Strasbourg in 1682 following
its annexation by France).
1700: Germany, Switzerland, the Protestant
Dutch provinces, Denmark and Norway.
1752: Adopted by England, its American
colonies, and Sweden.
1753: Protestant Switzerland (the last
canton being Grisons, in 1811).
1873: Japan replaced the Chinese lunar
calendar with the Gregorian calendar.
1912: China took the Gregorian calendar as
its official calendar
1923: Greece, USSR (the October Revolution
of 1917, which marked the start of the Russian Revolution, was in November
of the Gregorian Calendar).
1919: Rumania and Yugoslavia.
The monasteries of
Mount Athos (Macedonia) still use the Julian Calendar.
Hamilton Watches 1892 Brief History of the Hamilton Watch Company.
Although the Hamilton Watch Company opened in December of 1892, they spent
over a year "gearing up" without producing a watch. Their start of
production was March of 1894. The only watches they produced were pocket
watches, most notably their reliable railroad watches.
In 1908, they started making ladies pendant watches which were much
smaller than the large pocket watches produced until then. Ladies
wristwatches were introduced after World War I. They were a re styling of
the pendant watches, and had cloth or ribbon straps.
Men's wristwatches were considered effeminent prior to the 1920's.
Hamilton introduced their first men's "strap watch" on November 11, 1922.
They had to not only market the watch, but they had to market the "idea"
of a strap or wrist watch. Finally, their use in hot summers when vests
were not worn, the association with the war, explorers, and rugged outdoor
activities all helped the wristwatch gain acceptance. Hamilton was out in
front selling the idea, and aimed much of their promotional materials at
merchants--how to sell the "idea."
In the late twenties, they introduced some stylish watches like the
"Cushion," "Square," and the "Tonneau." Their art deco designs of the
1930's were accompanied with the practice of naming all of the watches.
Many people think the 1930's designs were the golden age of Hamilton's
design and production.
World War II saw the halt of consumer production to concentrate on
military watches. Following the war, they sold pre-war designs. Hamilton
had introduced new designs in the early 1950's. By the mid 50's, their
styling failed to capture the American public.
In 1957, they introduced the world's first electric watch--the Ventura.
With a radical asymmetric design to accompany the radical technology, it
became Hamilton's best ever selling gold watch. Many think that the superb
manual movements of the 1930's through the 1950's, and the innovative
electric watch, make Hamilton the most influential watch company of the
They are still producing
watches today, but the brand name is now owned by the Swatch Group. They
last produced watches under their own original company in 1969.
Hunter case (savonnette)
A watch case having a front and back cover.
Frederic Ingold 1787-1878
Japanese traditional timekeeping practices
(profoundly influenced by chinese horometry) required
the use of unequal
temporal hours: six daytime units from local sunrise to local sunset, and six
night time units from sunset to sunrise. As such, Japanese timekeepers varied
with the seasons; the daylight hours were longer in summer and shorter in
winter, and vice versa. European mechanical clocks were by contrast set up to
tell equal hours that did not vary with the seasons.
Most Japanese clocks were driven by weights; however, the Japanese were also
aware of, and occasionally made, clocks that ran from springs. Like the Western
lantern clocks that inspired their design, the weight driven clocks were often
held up by specially built tables or shelves that allowed the weights to drop
beneath them. Spring driven Japanese clocks were made for portability; the
smallest were the size of large watches, and carried by their owners in inro
Daily time to rewind and set
clocks (with a sundial)
Each hour (toki) was divided into 10 'bu'.
The traditional Japanese
The typical clock had six numbered hours from 9 to
4, which counted backwards from noon until midnight; the hour numbers 1 through
3 were not used in Japan for religious reasons, because these numbers of strokes
were used by Buddhists to call to prayer. The count ran backwards because the
earliest Japanese artificial timekeepers used the burning of incense to count
down the time. Dawn and dusk were therefore both marked as the sixth hour in the
Japanese timekeeping system.
In addition to the numbered temporal hours, each hour was assigned a sign from
the Japanese zodiac.
Starting at dawn, the six daytime hours were:
From dusk, the
six nighttime hours were:
The Meiji Restoration
(1868-1912) marked the beginning of the rapid modernization of Japan as it
strove to "catch up" to the Western powers which it had fallen behind in
technological and social development. Public education was instituted in 1872,
as was the western Gregorian
solar* calendar with its 'equal hours' system of timekeeping
(1 jan. 1873). It sparked a renewed interest in time
Japan's first mass production clock factory, Kingensha, was established in 1875. In 1892,
Kintaro Hattori founded Seikosha (later know as Seiko), which remains a
cornerstone of Japanese timepiece production to this day.
* the lunar calendar was abolished.
Pierre Jaquet-Droz was bom at La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1721 and died in Bienne in 1790. He was one of the most brilliant and innovative clockmakers of his era. His company specialised in musical and automaton clocks, boxes, fans, singing birds and all manner of ingenious play-toys. He journeyed throughout the whole world including England, France and Spain. In Madrid he was condemned to death by the
inquisition for allegedly, practicing black magic but was saved by the Bishop of Toledo. During the latter part of his life he took his adopted son, J.F. Leschot into business and the company continued to prosper until after his death.
Jaquet Droz made a number of organ clocks.
Jacquet Droz 1721-1790
Juno was worshipped as protectress of women especially in marriage and childbirth. According to mythology she was the chief goddess of Olympus and both sister and wife of Jupiter. Here we see Cupid holding her girdle. This magic belt, borrowed from Venus was intended to make anyone that wore it irresistibly desirable - which Juno needed to attract the attention of her faithless husband, Jupiter. She also carries a
sceptre, which like the peacock was another other attributes. In the "Golden Ass", Apuleius told the story of how Juno sent Argus, a giant with 100 eyes to watch over lo. Mercury then killed Argus, so in his memory Juno placed his eyes onto the tail of her peacock.
1) Jørgen Jørgensen
Jürgen Jürgensen Founder of the dynasty, born in 1745.
He began his apprenticeship in Kobenhavn in 1759 and finished it in 1765.
In 1766 he started a big tour through Germany and Switzerland. He took
this opportunity to change his name to Jürgen Jürgensen. Finally he
reached Geneva and Le Locle. There he found work in J. F. Houriet's
factory. Later he became the latter's agent for Scandinavia. Returning to
Kobenhavn, he founded his own workshop and a watchmaking factory together
with Isaak Larpent in 1773. He married Anna Leth Bruun in 1775. Two of his
children became watchmakers. He was finally appointed watchmaker to the
Danish court in 1785.
He died in 1811.
2) Urban Son of Jürgen, born in 1776.
After his school years he did his apprenticeship with his father,
beginning in 1790. In 1795 his father sent him on a tour to Switzerland,
specifically to Le Locle and Geneva. After 2 years there, he moved to
Paris, where he met Breguet and F. Berthoud, and then to London, to meet
Arnold, all this sponsored by the Danish State. He travelled home via
Paris, Le Locle, where he married the daughter of J. F. Houriet, and
Geneva. By the end of 1801 we find him back in Kobenhavn working together
with his father. In 1804 he published his first book (see Bibliography).
From 1807 - 1809 he travelled again to Le Locle, to visit his relatives,
and to Geneva, to learn jewelling for horological purposes. After the
death of his father, in 1811, he opened his own business. He signed "Urban
Juergensen". In 1815 he was elected as a member of the Royal Philosophic
Society, in 1822 he was appointed "maker" to the Admiralty, and in 1815
knight of the order of the Danebrog. Two of his children became
He died in 1830.
Please note: Wherever Urban writes Neuchâtel in his autobiography, he
means the county. The town he went to was Le Locle, because J. F. Houriet
3) Frederik Son of Jürgen, born in 1787.
He was 11 years younger than his brother. After school he also did his
apprenticeship in the workshop of his father but was taught by Urban. 1811
we meet him in Le Locle visiting his brother's relatives and working
there. At the time of his father's death he still stayed in Switzerland.
Called back to Kopenhagen his brother more or less forced him to take over
the parental workshop as well as the factory and to run it together with
and for his mother. So from 1811 onwards the signature "Larpent &
Juergensen" was changed in "Frederik Juergensen". For this Urban reached
for him to hold an appointment as a watchmaker to the Danish court in
1811. The same year he married. After the birth of a daughter in 1813 the
son Georg Urban, also called Fritz, was born in 1818. Things were not
going bad but Frederik was of a rather poor health. So the last years of
his life he made big efforts to pave the ways for his son to keep the
horological production going on.
He died in 1843.
4) Louis Urban Son of Urban, born in 1806, died in 1867
5) Jules Frederik,
known as Jules Son of Urban, born in 1808, died in 1877
6) Georg Urban Frederik,
known as Fritz Son of Frederik, born in 1818, died in 1863
7) Urban August Son of Louis Urban, born in 1836, died in 1866
8) Jules Urban Frédéric,
known as Jules II Son of Jules, born in 1837, died in 1894
9) Jaques Alfred Son of Jules, born in 1842, died in 1912
A device similar to the tourbillon, the difference being that the cage is
driven by the third wheel. Invented by Bonnicksen, a Danish watchmaker
established in London.
Excerpt of a talk on
‘Traditional Brass Lacquering’ by Francis Brodie who has worked in Dan
Parkes workshops and also for several museums. Francis
demonstrated by deftly and very thinly lacquering some polished brass
tubes. Aided by a small heat gun, the lacquer dried almost instantly
before further coats were applied. Various lacquers, which had all been
pre-mixed according to old recipes, were applied to tubes and also to a
flat sheet of polished brass. The main possible advantage of a thin
lacquer is that many coats can be applied, building up to the colour and
thickness required, also this would lessen the chance of any part of the
surface being missed.
Two of the recipes used
for the demonstration were as follows:
Philosophical Instrument Lacquer:
Spirits of Wine
Spirits of Wine
Francis recommended that
a good substitute for Spirits of Wine is isopropyl alcohol. Many of the
other ingredients used are still available, but may be a little harder
to find these days.
Lange Glashutte Manufacturing
BALTHAZAR. LIEUTAUD (circa 1720-1780) Balthazar Lieutaud became a maitre in 1749. The son of the ebeniste Charles Lieutaud and grandson of Francois Lieutaud an ebeniste from Marseilles, he specialized in clockcases. He worked with the bronziers Philippe Caffieri, Charles Grirnpelle and Edme Roye. By 1750 he was installed in rue de la Pelleterie on the ile de la cite, the clockmakers' district and moved to the rue d'Enfer in 1772. Following his death in 1780, his wife, Nicole Godard (1721-1800), continued to run the atelier.
Lepaute, 1769-1846, was the great nephew of the founder of the Lepaute dynasty Jean-Andre
Jean-Joseph joined the Company as junior partner to Pierre-Basil Lepaute who was the son of Jean-Andre's brother
Joseph. The partnership was perhaps the most fruitful of them all and together they made a great number of pieces for the Chateaux of the
Tuilleries, St. Cloud, Trianon and Fontainebleau. In 1811 the firm divided and Pierre-Basil formed his own firm with his son Pierre-Michel under the name of Lepaute
Jean-Joseph Lepaute later took on Augustin-Michel Henry who was the son of Pierre Henry who had married Jean-Andre Lepaute's sister
Elizabeth. Pierre later changed his name to Henry Neveu Lepaute and married
Annais, the daughter of Jean-Joseph.
The Lepaute dynasty continued but the present clock is a remarkable achievement of best quality clockmaking and the very highest quality
LÉPINE Jean Antoine, son of Jean.
Paris (Place Dauphine), b.1720, d.1814.
He was bom in Switzerland in a village
called Challex near Geneva. He started his horological career in Geneva
but soon went to Paris in 1744 as apprentice to Andre Charles Caron, the
King's clockmaker. He married Caron's daughter in 1756 and was made Master
in 1765 about which time he was appointed Horloger du Roi.
Lepine was responsible for a great many inventions but none more important
than a new calibre of watch movement that revolutionized watch making and
with which his name is synonymous. This 'Lepine calibre,' in which
separate bars were used instead of a single top plate was introduced about
Introduced the use of a mainspring barrel
supported at one end only, and other changes, leading, with cyl.
escapement, to thin watches. Described a repeating movement using rack in
place of chain, in Mémbre de l'Acadademy des Science in 1766.
Watchmaker to: Louis XV, Louis XVI and
Invented the virgule escapement and a keyless winding.
Acted as agent for Voltaire's workshops at Ferney ca.1770.
4-colour g. watch: Victoria and Albert Museum. S. Kensington
Enamelled watch and chatelaine: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,
Six watches: Guildhall Museum
Two with virgule escapement: Collection of the late Major Chamberlaine
4-colour gold watch Fränkel coll.Lyre watch: Basle Museum
Gold enamelled watches: M.P.S. Dresden. Watch Carnegie Museum
Two 4-colour gold watches: National Museum Stockholm,
Watch in porcelain case: Gélis coll.Watch in ring: Ilbert coll.
Astro. clock and three mantel clocks: Buckingham Palace, London
Two clocks: Palais de Compiègne, one made for Napoleon.Clock made for Josephine, Mobilier National, Paris
An eminent maker. He worked as CARON ET LEPINE till 1769. Left
his business to his son-in-law RAGUET in 1783.
Lepine's business was sold in 1810
to J. B. CHAPUY, who employed Jacques Lepine. It was sold in 1827 to
DESCHAMP, who was succeeded in 1832 by FABRE. The business continued under
the name Lépine till ca.1916.
Jean Mairet 1805-1890
Martinière was a
remarkable inventor and enamellist, whose talents so impressed King Louis XV
that he was appointed Emailleur et Pensioneur du Roi. Martinière was the first
enameller to create a complete single enamel dial. Because of the fragile,
volatile nature of enamel, prior to this complete enamelled dials had been
restricted to watches. By the late seventeenth century clock dials featured
separate enamel plaques to display the hours, then followed an attempt to create
complete dials out of 13 or 25 individual pieces which were fitted together to
form a seemingly smooth surface. This was to change, thanks to Martinière's
dramatic technical advances circa 1740.
His unprecedented advance is best summed up in his own words, which
appeared in 1740 in 'Mercure de France'. In his 'Lettre écrite de Paris à
un horloger de Province sur les Cadrans d'Email', Martinière wrote
ask me, Sir, to find out from the Porcelain Manufacturers if they could
make you a Clock Dial one foot in diameter, because you tell me that you
know it is impossible to make any of this size all in enamel, like Watch
Dials. It is true that until recently this was impossible in the City, and
even at Court: here is an example. The King ordered a Clock, and His Majesty
wished that the Dial be all of one piece, in enamel, and 14 inches in
diameter. The one who received the order could only reply that he would
attempt to carry it out, not that he would succeed.
The Sr Martinière, Enameller,
in the rue Dauphine, undertook this task, and succeeded so well in all
respects, that he had the honour of presenting it himself to His Majesty,
who was agreeably surprised, and gave him signs of satisfaction with so
much kindness that he returned to Paris, enchanted with so happy a
success, and resolved to carry out
new studies in order to advance as much in his Art as would be
It was probably at this time that the King granted Martiniere
a pension and the title of Emailleur et Pensioneur du Roi. Louis XV, whose
interest in horology extended beyond the realms of a collector but also as
a benefactor, rewarded certain craftsmen of outstanding talent.
Antoine Nicolas belonged to a family of enamelers that included not only
his father, described by the 'Mercure' as an "able" enameler, but also his
two brothers and three cousins. Martinière and his wife, Geneviève Larsé
had one son, Jacques-Nicolas (b. 1738) who became a clockmaker. At the
time of his son’s birth the Martinières were living in rue Haute des
Ursins. By 1740 Martinière was established at the sign of the ‘Cadran
d’Email’ in rue Dauphine and then from 1741-55 in rue des Cinq Diamants in
the parish of Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie.
Note: later fine dial makers
were: Dubuisson, Elie Barbezat, Edme-Portail Barbichon, Jean-Antoine Cave,
Georges-Adrien Merlet and Joseph Coteau.
James Markwick jr. became free of the Clockmakers' Company in 1692 and died in 1730. His father's business succeeded that of Samuel Betts, one of the great early clockmaking pioneers. Markwick jr. became Master in 1720 and went into partnership with his brother-in-law Robert Markham who succeeded him in the business and carried on trading under the name Markwick Markham. Towards the end of the 18th. century the company made a large number of clocks and watches for the Turkish and Chinese markets. In fact the business was so successful that their name became synonymous with this type of clock.
Over a period of time the company associated themselves with a number of other clockmakers; Henry Borrell, 1794-1840, seems to have had a fruitful relationship with the company which is listed as ending in 1813.
(illustrated in Jean-Dominique Augarde, “Les Ouvriers du Temps”, 1996, p.
17, pl. 4). Merlet was one of the finest enamellers to specialise in the
decoration of clock dials. Like Coteau and Dubuisson he gained renown
during the last quarter of the eighteenth century for highly ornamented
dials and enamelled clocks.
A system, patented in 1808 by John Schmidt of St Mary Axe, that uses
transparent crystal discs with serrated edges to carry the hands. These
wheels are driven by pinions, concealed inside the case frame. Generally
the movement is housed in a clock’s ornamental base.
The magician and illusionist Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin (1805-1871) is also
acknowledged as one of the inventors of the mysterious clock.
In the mid-1700s, porcelain became so popular among the nobility that
aristocrats began sponsoring their own manufactories. Jean-Louis Beyerlé,
an advisor to the king, founded one such operation at Niderviller in 1748,
developing it out of an earlier faience-making business. The new
enterprise initially drew its workers and stylistic inspiration from a
neighboring concern in Strasbourg, which produced ceramic wares in the
Rococo taste. At Niderviller, the workers modified the bright Strasbourg
palette, making it softer.
Because of its unique location in the duchy of Lorraine—where it was
exempt from French laws designed to protect the royal monopoly of the
Sèvres porcelain manufactory—Niderviller flourished for nearly twenty
years, unlike other French porcelain manufactories. When the Duke of
Lorraine died in 1766, the territory reverted back to the French crown,
and the manufactory was then subject to new, even tighter restrictions on
production and decoration. In 1772 Beyerlé sold the factory to a French
An enamel-like alloy of lead, copper, silver, sulphur and sal ammoniac
(ammonium chloride). Niello paste is applied over incised gold or silver
then fired in the enamellist’s furnace. Excess niello is filed off and the
surface smoothed. Polished niello cases were fashionable shortly before
wristwatches were introduced.
The word is of French
derivation and should be spelt ormoulu. It means gold ground to a powder
for amalgamation with mercury The preparation was applied with a brush to
the metal which was then heat treated to vaporise the mercury. The object
was then burnished. Ormolu is now understood to refer to brass castings
which have been gilt and are used as decoration on clock cases, furniture,
and also complete articles such as clock cases, lamp stands etc.
Jacques Panier (d. Paris 1737) had become a maître-horloger by 1701 and was also appointed Huissier Chambellan du Rol. By 1701 he was established at Rue des Boucheries-Saint-Germam and then by 1734 had moved to Rue de la Verrerie. He was one of the more important Parisian makers, supplying many of the French aristocracy including the Comte de Toulouse, the Ducs de Villeroy, de Brissac, de Lauragais, de Brancas and de Mazarin. Examples of his work can now be found in the Museum of Decorative Art, Prague and at the Palazzo di Quirinale, Rome.
1) A native of Le Locle, was one of the principle
constructors of tourbillons. He made no fewer than 82 tourbillon watches,
mostly with spring detent escapement, and won prizes from the Geneva and
Neuchatel Observatories. He was the father of James Pellaton, director of
the Le Locle Technicum, and a fine horologer in his own right.
2) The Pellatons & Patek Philipe.
Only the over 35 Tourbillons, which Albert Pellaton-Favre (1832-1914) and
his son James Pellaton manufactured for Patek Philippe, is a special class
in the area of precision horology. Apart from the outstanding results,
obtained by these calibres, it is the esthetical concept combined with the
absolute technical perfection and craftsmanship, which distinguished these
instruments. The Tourbillons of Pellaton represent the best, ever brought
out by the Swiss chronometry. The basic calibre was developed by
A.Pellaton Favre. He used, without exception, an Earnshaw chronometer
escapement in his revolving carriages. His son James Pellaton 1873 -1954),
director of the Technicum Le Locle, manufactured these Tourbillons as free
co-worker for Patek Philippe. Unlike his father he favoured however Swiss
anchor escapements. He often supplied just the complete ébauche (movement
blank) and monitored the completion of the chronometer in house, where he
had his own workbench. Exceptional performances could be obtained through
these extraordinary privileges as granted by Patek Philipe. Their reputation was established by
their farsighted and scientifically oriented way of acting. Although J.
Pellaton pursued just a concept, it became increasingly matured. Tiny
details, like the perfection of the polish or the golden scale for the
adjusting needle, which also served as a counter balance, are from an
unequalled constructional genius, which one finds only in these works. It
set thereby a standard, on which others were measured. Since regulation of
a chronometer begins with its design and construction, it was also due to
the Pellatons that these chronometers scored top results in the hands of
experienced regulators. A fact often and painfully neglected by other
During the 1920s and 1930s
James Casar Pellaton was the most esteemed maker of
tourbillon carriages, which he supplied to the most prestigious
companies including Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Girard-Perregaux,
.and Ulysse Nardin. The watch is described and illustrated in details in
"Le Tourbillon" by Reinhard Meis, Les Editions de l'amateur, Paris, 1990,
pp. 170-71.James Casar Pellaton (d.1954).One of the most esteemed makers
of tourbillons in the 20th century. He learned his craft from his father,
also an esteemed tourbillon maker. In terms of design, he followed his
father's footsteps, using the same type of ebauches. He became director of
the Le Locle Technicum, which in 1943 awarded him the degree of Doctor
Louis Perrelet 1729-1826
Moise Pouzait 1743-1793
Raingo was of French
extraction and fled (probably for political reasons) to Gand, Belgium circa 1800 and almost certainly remained there for the rest of his life. He is also recorded as being clockmaker to the
Duc de Chatres in 1823. The company became Raingo Freres circa 1825 and operated from various Paris addresses. Precious little information has come to light on the clockmaker himself (his Christian name is reputed to be Zachariah) but judging by the number of examples with retailers' names on the dials and his unfashionable location he relied heavily on others for retail.
Most of Raingo's 20-30 surviving orreries just have the basic tellurium on a circular base, the two best known examples of this type are in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle and at the Soane Museum, London. The present example with its musical movement and plinth base represents the rarest of all the types known to exist.
Reutter Leon (see also
"Living On Air"
The History of the Legendary Atmos Clock:
In the late 1920s Jean-Leon Reutter, a young Paris engineer, experimented
with a clock that needed no direct mechanical or electrical intervention
to keep it wound, in short a clock powered only by Perpetual Motion.
For centuries, many scientist including Leonardo Da Vinci had experimented
with the idea of Perpetual Motion - however, only J.L. Reutter eventually
succeeded at incorporating that novel idea into an actual working clock.
Through out his life, J.L. Reutter's dream of a Perpetual Motion timepiece
led him to produce a clock with a timekeeping mechanism designed
specifically to consume the smallest possible amount of power to keep the
clock running satisfactorily.
After studying the design of the 400-Day Anniversary Clock -which was very
popular during that era - Reutter made significant changes to that
concept, to meet the small input power requirement he was looking for in
his new clock design.
Reutters modifications of the 400-Day Clock included changes to the
escapement leverage to reduce the arc of the escapement as well as adding
jewels to the bearings of the movement. His new clock ran safely and most
importantly very reliably.
His new clock design included a special device that would power his clock
independently, using a substance that would react to the most sensitive
changes in temperature and atmospheric conditions. That substance was
mercury. He also designed a special glass tube similar to that of a
thermometer for the mercury and encased it all inside a metal cylinder,
which is now known as the Bellows.
The result of Reutters achievement was an ingenious new clock unlike any
other, past or present. A timepiece that could run independently and
continuously and so incredibly sensitive, that it could be rewound by the
slightest fluctuations in the atmosphere, or by the slightest changes in
temperature, hence the name: "Atmos Clock".
Later, due to dangers in handling and instability, the mercury in the
Bellows that powered the Atmos Clock was changed to a special more stable
saturated gas, known scientifically as 'Ethyl Chloride'. The technological
concept of the Gas filled Atmos Bellows is a remarkable one: Inside a
sealed capsule, a mixture of gas and liquid expands as the temperature
rises and contracts as it falls, moving the capsule back and forth like a
tiny unseen accordion. This motion is used to constantly wind the
mainspring thus enabling the clock to run and keep perfect time. A small
temperature variation of just one degree is sufficient for over two day's
operation. Such variation occurs naturally in normal room temperature and
thus without any additional sources of energy, the Atmos clock will
continue to run if left untouched, "forever". Hence the term: "Living On
The Marriage of Atmos and Jaeger-LeCoultre
When Reutters Atmos was in its initial production in the early thirties,
the lack of enthusiasm from manufactures in general during that time made
production of the Atmos clock difficult. Reutter Atmos was in production,
but only in small numbers.
Legend has it, while Reutter struggled with production of his Atmos Clock,
the manager of a famous Swiss watch making company LeCoultre (a company
world famous for fine Swiss watches located in the French Valley of
Switzerland) was strolling down a street in Paris one day and noticed one
of Reutters Atmos Clocks sitting in a shop window for sale. The man was so
fascinated with Reutters Atmos; he walked in and purchased it from the
Later, after a chance encounter between LeCoultre and Reutter he (Reutter)
agreed to sell the license and eventually his Atmos Clock patent to the
LeCoultre Watch Company.
At the time of LeCoultres acquisition of the Atmos patent, LeCoultre was
in fierce competition with another Watch Company, Ed Jaeger of Paris.
Eventually LeCoultre merged with Jaeger to form the famous watch making
With the combined knowledge and expertise of their newly joined Company,
Jaeger & LeCoultre poured considerable investment collective research and
development into Reutter's Atmos Clock. Just a few years later, major
production of the newly revamped Atmos Clock was launched under the
Jaeger-LeCoultre name exclusively.
The LeCoultre Atmos Clock soon became a very fashionable, prestigious gift
in Switzerland and eventually Worldwide.
As the success of both Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Atmos clock continued to
grow, the company prospered and in 1979, the 500,000th Atmos Clock left
the Factory in Switzerland with much celebrated fan-fair, a half a century
after the first Atmos Clock patent was filed.
Decimal or Revolutionary
Decimal or Revolutionary time was adopted by decree of the National Convention on November 24, 1793. It stipulated that the Gregorian calendar should be abandoned and replaced by the
which divided the day into ten hours each with one hundred minutes and then further sub-divided into one hundred seconds.
Although perhaps a logical 'simplification' of timekeeping the habits of the populous were difficult to change. The new system meant having to design a new dial and to this end a competition was organised to invent one that was clear and easy to read.
Despite the efforts of some of the great horological minds the system was never really adopted and clockmakers had no real reason to fully support it because their Revolutionary clocks were useless outside
France which ruined their export trade.
By 1795 it was no longer compulsory to use Decimal time and even before then clocks and watches were being made with both the 'old' and 'new' systems.
Finally it was decreed that the Decimal system had proved impossible to implement properly and from January 1, 1805 French timekeeping reverted back to the
Robin was employed as royal clockmaker to Louis XVI who installed him in
the Galeries du Louvre Robin belonged to a small
group of horologists who made significant advances in the quest for
accurate time measurement. He also possessed a keen artistic eye and only used the finest, most modern cases and dials supplied by
leading artists of his day.
Robin was appointedas Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire du Roi in 1783
then in 1786 installed in lodgings in the Galeries du Louvre on reversion
of Maurice-Quentin Le Tour’s lodgings, December 1785. The King’s wife,
Marie-Antoinette was equally enchanted by Robin’s work, though she tended
to prefer decorative pieces of a more feminine quality. In 1786 she
appointed him as her Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire du Reine. At
least 23 clocks by Robin were listed in the 1793 inventory of her
belongings. Robin was also much favoured by Monsieur, Louis XVI’s brother,
who owned at least ten of his works. Other members of court and
influential patrons included the maréchaux ducs de Duras and de Richelieu
who acted as ‘Premiers Gentilshommes de la Chambre’, the marquis de
Sérent, tutor to the ducs d’Angoulême and de Berry and François César
marquis de Courtanvaux. The latter, who belonged to the highest-ranking
nobility in the kingdom, would have truly appreciated such a work.
Courtanvaux, was a member of the Académie de Sciences, was passionately
interested in the sciences and had a large collection of clocks that
included one of Robin’s first mantle precision regulators.
Robin was an ambitious man of great influence who achieved almost
unrivalled success with a string of titles and important official posts to
his name. Appointed firstly to Louis XV and then Louis XVI and his wife,
his talents and the patronage of the royal family enabled him to count
among his clientele the cream of the Parisian high society. Yet despite
his prestigious position within the horological world little is known of
his youth and early training. He was born in Chauny, north east of Paris
in 1741 and then at the age of 23 was appointed to King Louis XV as
Marchand-Horloger Privilégié du Roi. Robin resigned two years later and in
1767 was received as a maître-horloger. The most brilliant phase of his
career began in 1778 when he was appointed Horloger du duc de Chartres and
the Académie des Sciences approved two of his inventions. One was an
astronomical clock representing a meridian drawn on a pyramid, which the
Menus-Plaisirs acquired the same year for King Louis XVI. In 1778 he also
published a highly acclaimed article, which he presented to the Académie
entitled “Mémoire contenant des réflexions sur les propriété du
Remontoire, un éschappment naturel avec une courte description d’une
Pendule dans lacquells ces effets sont execute”.
Famed for his mantle clocks, which featured astronomical indications and
compensated pendulums, of which the marquis de Courtanvaux owned one of
the first, Robin also applied the same principal to regulators, among
which was an early example acquired by the duc d’Aumont. Equally
interested in watch making, from 1786 he used a special type of
escapement, which he also incorporated into his monumental clocks,
supplying for example those at the Grand Commun at Versailles in 1782 and
at the Petit Trianon in 1785.
Robin spent his entire career in Paris. By 1772 he was established at
Grande rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, by 1775 at rue des
Fossés-Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois and by 1778 at rue Saint-Honoré at the
Hôtel de l’Aligre. Then in 1786 he moved to the Galeries du Louvre, where
he was at the king’s command and where he constructed this outstanding
Though Robin thoroughly enjoyed the patronage of royalty and aristocracy,
he showed little sympathy toward them during the Revolution. Whether he
feared or actively believed in the new political regime he soon found
favour with the new Republican government. Thus from former royal
clockmaker he was appointed Horloger de la République, 1794 and then
Horloger du Directoire, 1796. Robin’s work from this period include a
decimal clock made as a gift to the National Convention, 1793 and a ‘Louis
XIV clock’, which he converted into a ‘Clock of Liberty’, 1798. Robin died
in Paris on 17th July 1799; undoubtedly had he lived longer he would have
excelled under the Emperor Napoleon. Robin’s sons, both brilliant
clockmakers continued his dynasty and under the Restoration held the
titles of Horloger du Roi and Horloger de Madame la duchesse d’Angoulême,
daughter of Louis XVI.
As one of history’s truly great clockmakers, works by Robin continue to be
prized among the world’s finest private and public collections. The
impressive list includes the Château de Versailles, the Musées du Louvre,
Arts Décoratifs, National des Techniques, Conservatoire des Arts et
Metiers and National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris and the Musée Paul
Dupuy, Toulouse. Robin’s work is also conserved at the Wallace Collection,
the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Guildhall, London as well Baron
Rothschild’s former residence at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. The
Musée d’Horlogerie; La Chaux-de-Fonds; the Deutsches Museum, Munich and
the Museum der Angewandten Kunst, Vienna all own examples of his work as
do the Patrimonio Nacional, Spain; Pavlovsk and the Hermitage, at Saint
Petersburg. American collections include the Cleveland Museum of Art, the
Huntington Collection, San Marino and the Institute of Art Indianapolis.
Portrait of Robin.
Jean, Paris. Born in Geneva 1714 of a refugee father, d. 1794. Married in Paris in 1752. He is listed at the Quai
Pelletier, 1752, Place Dauphine, 1772-1781 and Rue Poupee 1787-1789. Tardy records a Louis XV cartel clock signed Romilly a Paris. In 1755 he is recorded as making watches beating seconds and 1768 a marine timekeeper damaged during trials. He wrote the technical part on horlogerie in the Encyclopedic
Frederic Roskopf 1813-1889
La Chaux de Fonds.
Georges F. Roskopf (1813-1889) was born in Germany and became a
In 1829 he went to La Chaux de Fonds and began training in commerce with
F. MAIRET & SANDOZ who dealt in ironmongery and watch parts.
In 1833 he decided to become a watchmaker and went as an apprentice to J.
BIBER in La Chaux de Fonds to learn watchmaking.
Financed by his wife, he then set up in business as an établisseur, that
is, a watch producer who bought the ebauche and all other parts of the
watch and assembled them. He made cylinder and lever watches for export to
North America and Belgium.
The watches were well made, the business was not profitable and in 1850
Roskopf sold it.
In 1851 he became joint manager of the La Chaux de Fonds branch of B. J.
Guttman Frères of Wurzburg. They made English-type watches.
In 1855 Georges Roskopf set up in business with his son, Fritz Edouard,
and Henri Gindraux as ROSKOPF, GINDRAUX & CO.
After two years his son opened his own business in Geneva and Gindraux
went to Neuchâtel to become Director of the Watchmaking School.
Roskopf was an idealist who dreamed of making a good quality, cheap watch
for working men. To accomplish this he used an old idea and reworked it,
that of having the hands driven directly by the mainspring.
In 1860 he began to design such a watch which could be sold for 20 francs,
and would still be of excellent quality, simple and solid. The watch had a
large barrel in the center. a "Perron" pin lever escapement, and a
monometallic balance. After discussions with Moritz J. Grossman he adopted
the simple detached pin lever escapement.
Listing of the features for the new caliber:
1 Escapement on a platform normally using a pin lever design but possible
with a lever or cyinder escapement;
2. No center wheel but a large barrel;
3. Motion work to hands direct from the barrel arbor;
4. Philippe free spring with no stopwork;
5. Button wind but with handset by finger pressure.
Roskopf met indifference and hostility among the watchmakers of the area
who were still working as a home industry and who did not wish to make a
watch such as he was offering. It is said, that in 1866 Roskopf ordered
two boxes of ebauches from EMILE ROULET and asked GUSTAVE ROSSELET to make
escapements; both refused to take his orders because of the novelty of the
work. He finally succeeded in producing a watch in 1867, using ebauches
and cases from the MALLERAY WATCH CO., and parts from many other makers,
and having them assembled in Damprichard, Doubs, France, by M. Chatelain.
The original order to MALLERAY was 2000. By the end of 1867 he was in
business and by 1870 he had ordered 20,000 ebauches.
Roskopf was granted US patent No. 75,463 10 Mar. 1868, for a changeable
escapement for watches (this patent said that the escapement could be
adapted for use with a cylinder or lever as well as a pin pallet). Roskopf
patented his watch in France with French patent No. 80611 of 25 Mar. 1868
for a watch with a type of platform escapement. He patented his designs in
several countries (Belgium, No. 21988, 3 Aug. 1867) but never in
Switzerland, because Switzerland did not yet have a patenting system, and
because the idea had been used there before his use of it.
Through the influence of the House of BREGUET in Paris, Roskopf was able
to present his watch at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1868 and won
a Bronze Medal. From then on BREGUET began to send him orders. Some
movements were supplied to BOREL & COURVOISIER. Other orders poured in.
The Roskopf watch was exhibited at the Amsterdam Exhibition in 1869 and
won a Silver Medal.
In 1870 Georges Roskopf introduced a second design with a setting
mechanism; this watch cost 25 francs. In it he reduced the number of
parts, simplified the escapement fitting, and introduced an improved
winding. The escapement was assembled on its own adjustable platform. The
watch was SW and pin-set. In his oversize barrel he arranged to use Adrien
Philippe’s (Patek,Philippe) patent free mainspring without stopworks for
which he paid a royalty on each watch.
In 1873 Roskopf handed over his business to WILLE FRERES and their
associates, CH. LEON SCHMID.
When Roskpof died in 1889 a number of firms claimed to be his ‚true
But WILLE FRERES actually had the rights on the firm.
WILLE FRERES and VVE CH. L. SCHMID had been using Roskopf trade mark for
years before G. F. Roskopf’s death, with his permission.
By this time the idea of the Roskopf-type watch was becoming popular in
Switzerland and a number of Swiss companies began making ‚Roskopf‘
In order to be really cheap, the watch had to be machine-manufactured and
not so well made.
These watches were pin-levers and did not have the platform escapement.
Compiled by Tim George.
Julien le Roy (1686-1759),
who is generally regarded as the most famous eighteenth century French
clockmaker, significantly raised the standards of the Parisian clock
trade. As the leader in his field his clientele included the cream of
French society, not least King Louis XV and members of his court notably
the Prince and Princess, the duc d’Orléans and Cardinal de Fleury. As a
result of Le Roy’s friendship with the British clockmaker, Henry Sully and
his senior colleague, William Blakey, a number of high quality English and
Dutch makers were introduced into Parisian workshops. This as well as Le
Roy’s own advances in the quest to improve accurate time measurement
actively encouraged renewed life into the flagging Parisian trade.
Born in Tours, he trained under his father, Pierre Le Roy and by the age
of 13 had already made his own clock. In 1699 Julien Le Roy moved to
Paris, where he was apprenticed under Le Bon; it is said that while there
he succeeded in making and completing a watch in only eight days. Received
as a maître-horloger in 1713, he later became a juré of his guild; he also
became a member and later a director of the Société des Arts. But his most
important appointment began in 1739 when he was made ‘Horloger Ordinaire
du Roi’ to Louis XV. He was given lodgings in the Louvre though he never
occupied them. Instead he installed his son, Pierre (1717-85) and
continued to operate his own business from rue de Harlay, where he
remained for the rest of his life. Le Roy created exceedingly fine clocks
for the King including one in a Boulle case for the Château de
Fontainebleau. In 1727 he made a repeating cartel as well as two repeating
watches “which are the first to have been made so that His Majesty can
remove the dials Himself to see the uncovered mechanism”. The following
year Le Roy applied the same principle to his repeating mantle clocks.
Le Roy’s innovations and improvements were substantial, notably his
perfection of monumental clocks that showed mean and true time, of which
his model at Hôtel des Missions Etrangères was exemplary. Le Roy also
researched equation movements showing and chiming true time and advanced
pull repeat mechanisms. He also resolved many problems to do with
watchmaking; by taking the best and discarding the least satisfactory
elements from both French and English clockmaking he ensured that watches
were subsequently easier to construct and simpler to maintain. One aspect
was his adoption of George Graham’s cylinder, which eventually resulted in
reducing the watch’s thickness. George Graham was among his many admirers,
who on inspecting Le Roy’s work once noted “I would like to be younger so
as to make watches like this”.
Due to his unrivalled success, Le Roy was not limited by commercial
constraints; for instance he nearly always made high quality watches and
clocks in pairs so that the case and decoration perfectly matched. He
generally chose the cases himself, which were provided by the very finest
makers of his day such as Nicolas Le Sueur, André-Charles Boulle – father
and son, the Caffieris, Charles Cressent, Le Cocq, Jean-Joseph de
Saint-Germain and Robert Osmond as well as Balthazar Lieutaud, Antoine
Foullet and others. Antoine-Nicolas Martinière, Nicolas Julien and
possibly Elie Barbezat generally made his dials.
Le Roy’s work can be found among the world’s greatest collections
including the Musées du Louvre, Cognacq-Jay, Jacquemart-André and Petit
Palais in Paris. Other examples are housed at Château de Versailles, at
the Victoria and Albert Museum and Guildhall in London and at Waddesdon
Manor, Buckinghamshire. The Musée d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds and
Museum der Zeitmessung Bayer, Zurich as well as the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
and Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels all house his work. As do
the Museum für Kunsthandwerck, Dresden, the National Museum Stockholm and
Musea Nacional de Arte Antigua, Lisbon. Works by Le Roy in American
collections include the J. P. Getty Museum, California; the Walters Art
Gallery, Baltimore and the Detroit Institute of Art.
Like their father, Le Roy’s four sons all excelled in their field, one
became a physician, one a chemist and another an architect and
antiquarian. His eldest son, Pierre Le Roy was a brilliant clockmaker in
his own right and one of the first to make a successful marine timekeeper.
le Roy 1686-1759
le Roy 1717-1785
Sèvres porcelain, history
1) The Sevres Porcelain Factory was originally founded in 1738 at
Chateau de Vincennes, France by local craftsmen from a nearby porcelain
factory at Chantilly. From the beginning, Sevres created finely detailed
gilded and hand painted decorative arts for the wealthy and priviledged.
The French royal family granted Sevres a 20 year exclusive contract to
produce porcelain in France, along with the title of Royal Manufacterer
of Porcelain granted under the regime of Louis XV who had an ownership
stake in the factory. Louis XV took over the entire operation himself in
about 1759, believing himself the best ambassador for its wares to both
a French and increasingly internationale clientele. Louis' travels
spread the Sevres reputation for deep colors and the finest glazes
across Europe, and he commissioned monumental works for his personal
collection. The royal court began to come under criticism from other
French artists and craftsmen who wished to enter porcelain manufacturing
but were excluded by the royal edict granting monopoly. Under pressure,
Louis XV loosened the prohibitions somewhat but retained details
regarding the use of gilding, for example, which ensured that Sevres
would continue to be a preferred choice of the wealthy and powerful in
an age of ostentatious ornamentation in decorative objects. Where the
raw material for porcelain kaolin had formerly been brought in from
Austria, a natural deposit of kaolin was soon discovered in France near
the town of Limoges. This gave the French the needed supply of high
quality kaolin with which to compete with the best of Europe.
Everything changed with the coming of the French Revolution and the
depression which followed. The company was in financial ruin, its
aspirations to challenge the German company Meissen as the most desired
porcelain for the royal and wealthy. It was declared the property of the
French government about 1798, and the company tried to survive with a
greatly reduced work force and shortages of cash and raw materials. The
government appointed a new administrator Alexander Brongniart of the
Sevres operations at the turn of the new century, a scientist and son of
an architect but a man with little or no experience in porcelain
manufacturing or design. He was however skilled in chemistry, botany,
zoology, and geology, a true Renaissance man. He applied these skills
and experiences to the manufacture of porcelain in ways never before
pursued. Creative design and production efficiencies both flourished,
and the factory began to recover from the hard times. Sevres began to
shed its dependence on the French royal family by expanding to produce
not just the highly crafted pieces for the wealthy but also more simple
yet high quality pieces for a broader section of society. The factory
also invested in glaze and kaolin (the raw material of porcelain)
experimentation as well as the expansion of the decorating department.
Reflecting the renewed fire of their ambitions, Sevres created one of
the world's first museum's devoted exclusively to porcelain and included
in the exhibits antiques from around the world as well as their own
production. Sevres continued to thrive through a succession of French
rulers including Napolean. Napolean preferred grand pieces of the Empire
style, with classical influeces but elaborate ornamentation signifying
power. Sevres retained royal preference and influence throughout the
19th century even as various style preferences came and went. Their
production changed in utility as well, adapting to the needs of society
for new presentation dishes and containers for new cuisine and food &
drink preferences. Well known artists such as Fragonard worked at
Sevres, and their focus on premium production and consequently prices
enabled them to attract only the best decorators. Sevres porcelain has
through the years reinforced and advanced the French reputation for
producing some of the world's highest quality luxury goods for the
wealthy and priviledged.
2) Sèvres Porcelain
The manufactory was founded to the east of Paris in the disused royal
château of Vincennes, late in 1739-40. It was not until 1756 that it
moved to the village of Sèvres, west of Paris, en route to King Louis
XV's palace of Versailles. It was also adjacent to his mistress' own
château at Bellevue. She was Madame de Pompadour, who was a great lover
of Sèvres porcelain. She was delighted with the factory's new location -
she knew she could entice Louis to take a greater interest in it when it
was so near their own residences. Indeed, the King became such a keen
patron of the factory that, when it ran into financial difficulties, he
bought out the shareholders and became the sole proprietor. The factory
remained a royal enterprise until the French Revolution, when it was
nationalised. It is still in production today.
The Wallace Collection holds the finest museum collection of Sèvres in
the world. Like the other greatest collections, the Royal Collection at
Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and the Rothschild Collection at
Waddeson Manor, they were formed in the nineteenth century, largely as a
result of the French Revolution when so many works of art came on to the
clocks, in which the movement is showcased rather than being hidden, came
into fashion toward the end of Louis XVI’s reign. Several explanations may
be advanced for this: first, the technical advances made during the 18th
century, which incited clockmakers to put their movements on display and
made the public curious to discover them; and secondly, the preference for
less massive, more delicate, clock cases, in marked contrast to the Louis
XV and early Louis XVI styles. The ethereal appearance of these clocks was
heightened by the use of painted polychrome enamel plaques instead of
chased bronze work to decorate the clocks.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the greatest craftsman of his age to work in gilt bronze. He was patronised by Louis XVI, Napoleon and Louis XVIII as well as foreign monarchy and
aristocracy. Born in Paris, he began his training under the sculptors J-A. Houdon and A. Pajou at the Academic St. Luc, Paris and then followed his fathers profession as a fondeur-ciseleur. He studied under the great fondeur-doreur, Pierre Gouthiere (1732-1813/14), from whom he acquired the most refined skills in chasing and gilding, in particular matt gilding 'dorure au matt', to produce a subtle grainy satin-like finish. Appointed a maitre-fondeur in 1772, he set up his own business in 1776 following the collaboration with J-L. Prieur in the decoration of the coronation coach for Louis XVI. Other royal commissions followed, for instance he supplied gilt bronze chenets with flaming urns and sphinxes for the Louvre in 1786. In 1788 he supplied a fine fire grate and pair of columns to an English gentleman, purchased in 1987 by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He was also appointed modeller to the Royal Sevres porcelain factory in 1783.
During the Revolution, Thomire prudently turned to manufacture of arms and ammunition but returned to decorative bronzes after the Consulate and was soon employing about 800 men. His pre-Revolutionary success was subsequently overshadowed by his fame during the Empire, when he supplied substantial commissions to the Imperial court and was appointed ciceleur de 1'Empereur in 1809. His art proved to be some of the purest and finest expression of the Empire style (promoted by Percier and Fontaine) such as his Vase de Marriage de 1'Empereur (Versailles). He also created other monumental Greek shaped urns, which were delicately modelled with crisp foliage and figures in low relief as well as magnificent centre-pieces or candelabra supported by winged Victories. In 1811 Thomire collaborated with imperial goldsmith, J-B-C. Odiot to make the cradle for the King of Rome after a design by P-P. Prud'hon (Schatzkammer, Vienna). He also worked the bronze for another Imperial cradle (Fontainebleau).
Thomire engaged in a number of important collaborations; this was as much
due to the unparalleled quality of his castings as well as the
pre-Revolutionary guild restrictions upon all craftsmen such as furniture,
porcelain and clockmakers. For instance he provided a number of fine gilt
bronze mounts to the leading ebenistes, such as G. Benneman, F.
Schwerdfeger and particularly to A. Weisweiler. He also supplied mounts
for Sevres porcelain clock cases to house movements by the finest Parisian
clockmakers, such as one by Robert Robin, 1788 (in the Musee des Arts
Decoratifs, Paris). After the Revolution, Thomire produced a number of
figural clock cases directly inspired by famous Neoclassical sculptures or
paintings. Two famous examples in the British Royal Collection are his
'Oath ofHoratii' and 'Rape of the Sabine Clock'; both adapted from
paintings by the leading Neo-classical master, J-L. David. At other times
Thomire featured Greek heroes such as the Apollo Clock' or others showing
Father Time, who carries a clock upon his shoulder (examples of both were
purchased by King George IV). The 'Psyche and Cupid Clock' is one of his
most beautiful and rarest works, known examples can be found at the
Hermitage, Leningrad, the Spanish Royal Collection, Madrid and presently
on show at the Richard Redding Gallery. After the Restoration, Thomire
enjoyed the patronage of the Bourbons and in 1834 was awarded the Legion
d'Honneur by Louis Philippe. He retired in ; 1823 but continued to make
occasional sculptures. His firm Thomire et Cie. was continued by his two
2) Pierre-Philippe Thomire (died 1843)
elected maître-fondeur in 1772. He studied sculpture at the Academie of
Saint-Luc, where his talent was noted by Houdon. He worked from 1774 with
Gouthière and with Prieur and opened his own workshop in 1776. The
revolution interrupted his oeuvre, but the Empire period brought renewed
prosperity, by working in association with Jacob-Desmalter and the
Emperor's patronage. Thomire relinquished control of his business to his
sons-in-law in 1823 and the firm ceased to trade in 1852.
- Solar time, time as determined by the sun. Time as indicated by a
sundial. (see also
- Solar cycle, a period of 28 years, after which the days of the
week fall on the same days of the month.
- Mean Solar time, the mean of the solar days, the average apparent
solar time i.e. the mean of the time as shown by the sundial. Our
artificial clock time.
- Sidereal time, the time between two successive meridianal transits
(crossings) of a fixed star.
- Sidereal day, the time between two successive transits of the
first point of Aries across the meridian, it refers to the rotation
of the Earth measured relative to the stars. A sidereal day is
approximately 56 seconds longer than a mean solar day. (1 sidereal
day = 23.9344696 hours)
A. L. Breguet's invention (patented in 1801) for neutralising the
positional (vertical) errors inherent in a watch. The escapement is
mounted in a revolving carriage or cage with the result that the
positional errors are repeated (with a cancelling-out effect) in every
revolution of the carriage. The speed of revolution of the carriage
depended on the lay-out. In some instances the escape wheel pinion
turns about the fixed fourth wheel, the carriage revolving once in a
minute, and in others the revolution is made in four or six minutes. A
'tourbillon watch' is not a watch with a special kind of escapement
since it may have either a lever or a detent escapement.
Passage of a
celestial body across a meridian.
A transit instrument, in the past used by astronomers to adjust
precision clocks and watches, is a special form of telescope
mounted in such a manner and so equipped that the passage of sun
and stars across a meridian (i.e. their transit) can be very
Pieter Visbach (b. 1634, a.
1646, m 1688, d.1722), who also spelled his name as Visbagh, was born in
The Hague and apprenticed (1646-1652) to Salomon Coster who made the first pendulum clocks for Huygens
('met privilege') in 1657. Visbagh moved to
Middelburg but returned upon Salomon Coster’s death (1659) and took over
his house and workshop, at the eastside of the Toorenstraat, from the
widow in november 1660. For the next 30 years Pieter Visbagh was the most
prominent clockmaker of The Hague. After the Dutch Clockmakers’ Guild was
founded in 1688, he acted as its first Master. Pieter Visbagh died in 1722
but had probably retired much earlier.