A fine and early balance-spring watch, amongst the earliest known, circa 1680-5.
Silver paircase, the inner box with split bezel, lose-ring pendant, revolving latch and with the cameo stamp RB (Richard Blundell, White's Alley, Coleman Steet), the original outer case with square 7-knuckle joint. Fullplate fusee movement with tulip pillars, the small cock toot of irregular shape and the table with a trefoil design of piercing, a common feature of the earliest balance-spring watches. Steel balance, 2-turn blued-steel balance-spring with Tompion-type rack and pinion regulation, the simple, earliest form of slide plate with silvered disc. Engraved silver dial with single blued-steel hand. 51.5 mm diameter.
Charles Gretton (c.1747-1731), Fleet Street, London, a fine clock and watchmaker, Master of the Clockmakers' Company in 1700. Better known for his clocks, Gretton also sold some fine watches during the period the balance-spring was developed in London, post 1680. See the book on Gretton Through the Golden Age by Dennis and Laila Radage, and Warner Meinen. Please note that this is the 4th or 5th earliest watch known by Gretton, being similar to the one other earliest known watch with balance-spring featured in the Radage book, pages 453-55, as well as on the dust jacket.
NB: The biggest single improvement ever made to pocket watches was the invention and application of the balance-spring. With its development by Thomas Tompion and a few others between 1675 and 1680, the buying public slowly came to understand the advantages and many pre-balance spring watches were later converted. Indeed, most of the earliest watches produced by Tompion and a few others at this inspirational period were conversions to existing pre-balance spring watches. It took some years for the rough movement makers to create and supply the new style of movement, as here, this being amongst the earliest known with the new layout having a large balance and matching cock, together with a slide plate allowing for regulation adjustment.
This watch has survived rather better than the few known watches of the period, most surviving as movements or having been re-cased; one nice feature of this watch being the decorated ends to the winding, regulation and hand setting key squares. The watch does of course show some of the expected signs of use and age, but it has recently been the recipient of some careful restoration by one of the best craftsmen presently working in England. This allows it to perform much as it no doubt first did over three hundred years ago, one that could easily be used to run a modern life.
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