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Quarter repeating cylinder watch by John Leroux

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Length: 17.100 cm (overall)

M&ME 1979,1-1.1

Room 46: Europe 1400-1800

    Quarter repeating cylinder watch by John Leroux

    London, England, AD 1777-1778

    Enamelled by William Craft

    During the eighteenth century a fashion for wearing watches on chatelaines attached to the wearer's belt was widely adopted. The majority of these chatelaine watches consisted of a gilt-brass or, perhaps more often, a gold pair-cased watch with repoussé decoration on the outer case and a matching en-suite chatelaine. Another form, which perhaps achieved its height of popularity in the 1770s, was the chatelaine watch in which the cases and chatelaine were made from gold and enamelled en-grisaille with pictorial subjects.

    This is an extremely fine example of this type of watch, made by John Leroux of Charing Cross, London. While the watch mechanism is of standard form it is nevertheless of high quality with a ruby cylinder escapement. The escapement is designed to repeat the hours and quarters, in the back of the case, when the pendant is pushed in. The cases and chatelaine are also of the highest quality, enamelled by William Craft, one of London's leading artist/enamellers of the time, who was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy between 1774 and 1781. The watch case is enamelled on the back with portrait busts of King George III and Queen Charlotte and the chatelaine is similarly decorated with en-grisaille enamels depicting Hercules and Mercury and a Roman altar scene.

    The watch and chatelaine were made for Sir James Napier, FRS FSA (died 1799) who was Inspector of His Majesty's Hospitals in America.

    H. Tait, 'Sir James Napier's watch', Antique Collector (December 1983), pp. 73-75

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


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