Beautifully detailed gold crystal (flat glass) case with stylish olivette, 5-knuckle joints and swivel pendant hallmarked 1893, sponsor’s mark HMF (Harrison Mill Frodsham). Rare nickel finished keyless three-quarter plate movement with raised barrel, jewelled to the centre with cap jewels on the balance (diamond), lever and escape. Double-roller detached lever escapement, the lever of ’tuning-fork’ shape, as associated with the best London work of the period. Best quality compensation balance with quarter-timing nuts, paired with a free-sprung, triple overcoil balance-spring. Beautiful Willis off-white signed enamel dial, blued-steel hands. 50 mm diameter. Together with a ‘well travelled’ original velvet and silk lined maker’s box.
Nicole Nielsen & Co was the most important and influential London firm of watchmakers throughout the second half of the 19th and into the 20th centuries. During this period they formed strong associations first with the firm of E J Dent and later with Chas Frodsham, becoming the main supplier of the latter’s best work, this being a lovely and rare example. See also my reprint of a Nicole Nielsen’s High-Class English Watches trade catalogue for more information about this most underrated firm.
Charles Frodsham (1810-1871) the most famous of the Frodsham family of clock and watch making firms, began to sign some of their best watches with an additional ‘AD Fmsz.’ This code stands for the date 1850, signifying, it is thought, their new caliper of watch designed in that year. It was watches like this, so well made and finished, that cemented the firms reputation for selling the best London work, but only very rarely with nickel finished movements rather than the gilded plates usually preferred in the UK.
The watch is not mint, with minor marks to the dial, movement and case, but it has obviously been well looked after, and the complete watch is a fine example of the best English traditions in watchmaking. It is not an overly large, heavy or complicated ‘trophy watch’ but is instead a perfect watch for wear, allowing the owner to also know that they have a watch that could not be said to be ‘second best’ in comparison to any other. It is also unusual in that there is no previous dedication engraving on the beautiful 18ct case, and which anyway benefits from a patina that can only occur in use. For this reason I have not polished it – this is how I like to find watches. Freshly serviced and guaranteed.