Watch by Louis Oury

Paris, France, about AD 1680

Following the introduction of the balance spring to the watch, makers around Europe were quick to adopt it in their watches. In Paris, the new invention found favour with all the leading watch makers, including Louis Ourry, who became a master watchmaker in Paris in 1684 and a number of watches by him are known to survive.

This watch is a fine example from the new balance spring era. The silver case is undecorated and the white enamel dial is extremely clear and easy to read. These two factors perhaps display the new emphasis which became associated with the watch in this period. In contrast to earlier, highly decorative watches, the emphasis here is concentrated on indicating the time. For now, the status of a watch was related to its accuracy and less so for its lavish decoration.

The white enamel dial is an early example of a style which did not become fashionable in England until the 1720s. However,the watch is also old-fashioned, as it only shows hours and half-hours using a single hand. The movement has a verge escapement with a balance and balance spring, but has a mainspring housed in a going barrel. The maker has clearly decided that the accuracy afforded by the new spiral balance spring has meant that there was no longer a need to use a fusee.

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Diameter: 41.500 mm (case)

Museum number

M&ME CAI 563


Ilbert Collection


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