ended Result
15
Dec 2015
  • London (United Kingdom)

  • address: 34-35 New Bond Street - W1S 2RT UK

Auction summary

Compiled over 20 years, a private collection of English watches entitled “The Celebration of the English Watch” was offered at Sotheby’s London on 15 December 2015. A veritable who’s who of British horological luminaries, the collection - which will be divided up into four separate auctions - features timepieces by David Ramsay, John Ellicott, Thomas Mudge, John Arnold, Thomas Tompion and George Graham, all the way through to the 20th century horological giant, George Daniels.

The first auction, which took place on 15 December, paid homage to “David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court” and was composed of 97 pocket watches representative of the era following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 to the execution of King Charles I in 1649. 

A rare silver royal oval watch, circa 1618, with an astronomical dial and an engraved miniature portrait of King James I by David Ramsay, was the star lot of the first sale and accrued four times the pre-sale estimate of £250,000, fetching £989,000. When it was founded in 1632, Ramsay was the first master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and Chief Clockmaker to the King. 

Another top performer at auction was a gold half quarter dumb repeating watch by John Arnold of 1782. Estimated at £125,000-200,000, the pocket chronometer fetched £245,000, while a Daniel Quare beauty featuring a quarter repeating movement, and estimated at £70,000-100,000, sold for £185,000

Another fascinating horological piece auctioned on 15 December was Richard Bowen’s silver astronomical verge watch, circa 1660, with an engraving of Charles I, produced immediately following his execution. Depicted in a kneeling position, Charles I is remembered as a martyred, pious king, and this watch, estimated at £60,000-80,000 and sold for £87,500, is a truly amazing time capsule that reminds us of the historical events of the age.

The lavishly decorated enamel caseback on the Ellicott watch, representing a scene of dancers, was executed by George Michael Moser - one of the most famous artists and enamellers of the 18th century. Originally estimated at £60,000-90,000, the watch was not sold. 

A private collection of English watches, tracing the evolution of watchmaking from the 17th century to the present day, was offered at Sotheby’s London on 15 December 2015. A who’s who of British horological luminaries, the collection - which will be divided up into four separate auctions - features timepieces by David Ramsay, John Ellicott, Thomas Mudge, John Arnold, Thomas Tompion and George Graham, all the way through to the 20th century horological giant, George Daniels.

It’s easy to forget that, by the 17th century, England was already a reference in watchmaking and that, by the 18th century, the pivotal innovations developed here - including John Harrison’s famous marine chronometers, which finally solved the problem of establishing the precise determination of a ship’s longitude at sea - were exported and emulated worldwide. 

Entitled “The Celebration of the English Watch”, this historic collection, which has been compiled over the past 20 years, has been divided into 314 lots and will be split into four individual auctions - estimated to fetch between £6-9.5 million. The first, which will take place on 15 December, pays homage to “David Ramsay and the First Clockmaker’s Court” and was composed of 97 pocket watches representative of the era following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 to the execution of King Charles I in 1649. 

A rare silver royal oval watch, circa 1618, with an astronomical dial and an engraved miniature portrait of King James I by David Ramsay, is predicted to be the star lot of the first sale. When it was founded in 1632, Ramsay was the first master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and Chief Clockmaker to the King. If you would like to view something similar by Ramsay, there is a watch on permanent loan at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. 

Another highlight is the gold half quarter dumb repeating watch by John Arnold of 1782, estimated at £125,000-200,000, while a Daniel Quare beauty featuring a quarter repeating movement is estimated at £70,000-100,000.

Another fascinating horological piece to be auctioned on 15 December is Richard Bowen’s silver astronomical verge watch, circa 1660, with an engraving of Charles I, produced immediately following his execution. Depicted in a kneeling position, Charles I is remembered as a martyred, pious king, and this watch, estimated at £60,000-80,000 is a truly amazing time capsule that reminds us of the historical events of the age.

The lavishly decorated enamel caseback on the Ellicott watch, representing a scene of dancers, was executed by George Michael Moser - one of the most famous artists and enamellers of the 18th century.

Read about Sotheby's recent auction success with Winston Churchill's pocket watch

Highlights

As predicted, a silver royal oval watch engraved with a miniature portrait of King James I by David Ramsay, dating from 1618, quadrupled its pre-sale estimate fetching just under £1 million. 

where:

  • London: United Kingdom
  • address: 34-35 New Bond Street

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