Tompion No. 144 London gold pair-cased quarter repeating watch.
This watch demonstrates the pinnacle of Tompion’s watch making skill. He has incorporated all the features of a pull quarter repeat within the compass of a watch. Furthermore, he has included the same check mechanisms to ensure that there is no possibility of the watch sounding out the adjacent quarter when the time is within a minute of changing!
Just as Tompion screwed the Sussex Tompion within its case to deter copyists, he now introduces a secret dual latch system to prevent anyone opening the watch to inspect
the intricate mechanisms. This watch appears to be the only one still retaining its secret latches! The inner gold case was made by Sherwood, hallmarked 1697.
This watch was the founding purchase of Seth Atwood for his Rockford Time Museum.
The Spanish Tompion No. 381.
Here is a wonderful example of ‘Badge Engineering’ – the same
product presented in different cases! The clock mechanism was perfected in the
Selby Lowndes Tompion N0217 (Exhibit 108), followed by the Medici Tompion N0278, before being dressed up further by Daniel Marot, with four clocks in similar turtle-shell cases. The Spanish Tompion N0381 being the first.
All the days of the week and the strike regulation dial are engraved in Spanish and by deduction this clock was probably made for Carlos III, pretender to the Spanish throne. Ronnie Lee heard of the existence of the clock in the 1950s and spent a holiday trying to track it down. Seth Atwood then talked to Ronnie about his holiday and mounted his own search which finally led to his purchase of the clock.
It had pride of place in his collection in the Rockford Time Museum.
Thomas Tompion No. 387, a walnut Type 3 full grande sonnerie longcase clock with trip repeat.
In total, three of these clocks were made of which this was the last. They were the most complex striking clocks made by the Master clockmaker, ringing out a peal of six bells as well as repeating the hour bell to sound out in full the exact time on each quarter. This requires in the last 315 years 165,564,000 quarter bell strikes and 71,744,400 hour strikes plus the odd extra for leap years and the extra weight power to drive any pull quarter repeats made by the proud owner! In comparison the clock has ticked away about 9,940,644,000 seconds since 1703.
Tompion sundial made for Henry Grey 12th Earl of Kent.
When Tompion presented an imposing oak cased month-going clock to the Corporation of
the City of Bath, he also presented them with a stunning sundial against which to set the clock. The Bath Tompion also has an equation of time dial so the employee charged with winding the clock could easily see the offset, faster or slower, to correct the clock to local mean time.
This Tompion Sundial is engraved with an equation of time table so it would appear that Henry Grey 12th Earl of Kent had an ordinary clock without a kidney cam to give the equation of time on the clock.
England changed from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar on 2 September 1752 and thereafter all previous equation of time tables and mechanisms were 11 days out!
Christopher Gould musical clock.
If 300 year old full grande sonnerie clocks are rare, then musical clocks are even rarer! At the century’s turn, this clock was without equal, playing either Lily Bolero or Cold and Raw on the hour. Originally, other tunes were available as the pin barrel is removeable, playing 14 nested and tuned bells, struck by 28 hammers. The moon in the breakarch has a rotating universal tide adjustable for any coastal situation. The burr walnut case with inset crossbanding in kingwood and tulipwood and surrounding fine double boxwood with inner ebony stinging is of exceptional quality.
In spite of his prodigious horological talent, Christopher was unfortunately no businessman. He was declared bankrupt in 1706 and ended his career as an ale taster! The Clockmakers Company were sympathetic, appointing him a Beadle together with a pension until his death in 1718.
Quare GMT and sidereal double dial longcase.
The Quaker, Daniel Quare, specialised in grand (OTT) clocks. The left hand dial shows GMT seconds, minutes, hours and, in the arch dial, an annual calendar giving the date, month and zodiacal sign. The short hand shows the equation of time difference between GMT and a sundial. The right hand dial shows sidereal seconds, minutes and hours used by astronomers to determine the direction of a star.
For all normal considerations, the Earth in relation to the stars makes one full true rotation in 23h 56m 4.09s. A sidereal second is 0.99727 GMT seconds – the true rotation time divided by 24h, the average GMT rotation.
Daniel Quare Spring clock.
Quare turtle-shell spring clock N047 but with a movement made by Tompion or one of his outworkers. Whereas Thomas Tompion made the vast majority of clocks signed by him, Daniel Quare not only made clocks but acted as retailer also. Still on its original bracket and signed Dan Quare London N047, while the movement is of Tompion’s miniature pattern, the dial and red turtle-shell case are his own.
Movements made in the Quare workshop are best described as fit for purpose but do not ooze the quality of design and finish achieved by Tompion. Some examples bought in and signed by Quare really do make you wonder whom he commissioned to make them!
This back-to-back dual-dialled clock is the most complex of equation clocks of the period. The maker, Joseph Williamson, claimed to have made all such equation mechanisms. Whilst he probably made those for Quare as they are all separate mechanisms, Tompion’s equation movements have the equation mechanism completely integrated within his design (see Exhibit 116).
To produce a clock with Mean Time Tempus Aequale on one dial and Solar Time Tempus Apparens on a dial on the other side of the case required the rotation to be reversed. Williamson accomplishes this by a differential gear system – now used today in the back axle of all motor vehicles. Who would think that a 300 year old mechanism for clocks would still find such a utilitarian purpose!
John Harrison of Barrow.
John Harrison of Barrow built three early wooden longcase clocks before Sir Charles Pelham commissioned his Brocklesby Park clock. For this John experimented with friction reducing pallets as natural oils changed viscosity with temperature, affecting timekeeping. These did not work, so he invented his grasshopper escapement with no sliding friction.
John set his mind on the Longitude prize. London clockmakers could not make a land clock accurate enough to win the prize, but John first set out to make a precision clock for himself against which to calibrate his next project – his sea clocks. He reduced friction all through the train with lignum vitae pivots and roller pinions and experimented with a gridiron pendulum until he had perfect temperature compensation.
Dated 1726, this was the most accurate clock in the World for 150 years!