Capped fullplate fusee movement of typical Graham caliper, with beautifully engraved cock and slide plate, the cock with grotesque mask and un-pierced and unusually shaped foot, the brass-edge showing that it originally held one of the brand new one-piece enamel dials. Importantly, the cap retains its original secret locking device, released by inserting a pin into a small hole in the edge of the cap. Cylinder (dead-beat) escapement retaining the original 13-tooth brass escape. Steel balance, blued-steel balance-spring (broken). 37.5 mm diameter.
George Graham, successor to Thomas Tompion, Fleet Street, London, had perfected the cylinder escapement by 1726 and used this in all his watches from then on, without exception, until he died in 1751. The earliest known surviving example is number 5182 (also now a movement), which means that this example is from the first forty watches made and sold by Graham. Previously recorded only from a ‘Lost Watch’ advert that appeared in the Public Advertiser on July 16th, 1773. See also the indispensable books on Tompion’s and Graham’s output by Jeremy Evans for more information.
Graham, justly recognised as one of the greatest clock and watchmakers, introduced his new dead-beat escapement for clocks around 1715 and for his watches in 1726. It was still being used by Swiss and French makers well into the 20th century, making it one of the most historically important watch escapements to have been invented. Pre-1730 examples are never normally seen outside museum collections, making this a very rare chance to obtain a piece of horological history.
NB: This is 7th earliest cylinder now known to have survived and is just one of two known that retain the early secret locking mechanism intact. The other, No 5193, re-cased and re-dialled, sold at Bonhams in 2012 for £6000
Lacking dial, hands and hour wheel, with a broken cylinder and the steel work with moderate rusting. Otherwise complete and the cock thankfully not having been permanently disfigured by being filed down to provide a later form of banking – very many have. Not working, but well worth the effort of any restoration.