22ct gold paircase hallmarked 1762, case maker TL under a star (Thomas Layton). Capped and jewelled fullplate fusee movement with, unusual for English work, a balance-bridge and continental style fixed regulation disk with moving pointer. Cylinder (dead beat) escapement retaining its original steel cylinder with Graham-type banking. Steel balance, spiral balance-spring. Roman & Arabic enamel dial with minute dots rather than the usual track, gold beetle & poker hands. 48.5 mm diameter.
William Mathews, at 27 Fleet St at this period, was one of the three specialist watchmakers appointed by the Board of Longitude for the disclosure by John Harrison of his timekeeper (H4) in 1765. The others were Thomas Mudge and Larcum Kendall. All three have direct connections with George Graham’s workshop, which is perhaps not surprising as Graham was, until his death in 1751, one of Harrison’s greatest supporters. More importantly, Larcum Kendall and Mathews were both asked to prepare an estimate for making a copy of H4 by the Board, a clear indication of the latter’s capabilities.
Despite this, little is known about Mathews and I have records of less than ten items by him known to have survived – the Clockmakers’ Company strangely sold off their one quarter-repeating movement by Mathews at Sothebys in 1974. Britten also records a watchpaper by Mathews engraved “Wm Mathews, late app. to Mr Graham.” Mathews ceased trading in 1776, his premises, workshop and stock-in-trade being auctioned off. He died in 1780.
NB: The use of a balance-bridge is not unknown in the better class of 18th century English work, it being favoured by Thomas Mudge and a few other top London makers.
Thomas Layton, Dean St, Fetter Lane, watch case maker. His work is not commonly seen, but he did work for John Ellicott and, perhaps significantly, supplied the case for the John Barton watch having an enamel portrait of John Harrison that has always been thought of as William Harrison’s personal watch.
A fine and interesting watch, and the only Matthews watch known to bear a code rather than a serial number. As it is such a rare watch by one of England’s greatest watchmakers of the time I have photographed it prior to servicing. I will happily organise this if wanted by its new owner and at no extra cost.