Gilt-brass cased clock-watch with alarm, by Hans Schniep

Spier, Germany, around AD 1590

By the third quarter of the sixteenth century the style of the watch had changed from the tambour (drum) shape to this, more rounded, form. The cover and the back are domed and the case band has a noticeable bombé shape. The back of the case is pierced and engraved with the typical urn and flowers pattern and the front cover is pierced with apertures to show the numerals on the dial. The silver dial is engraved and enamelled with flowers and a stylised bird. The chapter ring is numbered I-XII and thirteen to twenty-four; the quarters circle is of alternate hatched and plain rectangles. The figure '2' is in the characteristic 'z' form typical of Germanic clocks and watches of this period. The single blued-steel hand is a later replacement. Turning the central disc, using the tail of the hand as a register, sets the alarm.

The movement has brass plates and pillars, and steel wheels. The going train is controlled by a verge escapement with dumb-bell balance (a modern replacement). The going train mainspring has a stackfreed mechanism to even out the changing torque of the mainspring. The striking mechanism for hours I-XII is controlled by a count-wheel.

Hans Schniep gained the Freedom of Speyer, a town in Germany near Mannheim, in 1572. He appears in the lists of Guilds of Smiths until 1599 and is thought to have died by 1624.

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Gilt-brass cased clock-watch with alarm, by Hans Schniep

Front cover

  • Back of case

    Back of case

  • Movement



More information


H. Tait, Catalogue of watches in the Br, vol. 1: The stackfreed (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)

H. Tait, Clocks and watches (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)


Diameter: 73.500 mm (case)

Museum number

M&ME CAI 2213


Ilbert Collection


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