- Museum number
MOVEMENT AND DIAL OF A LEVER WATCH WITH QUARTER-REPEAT.
Full-plate; fusee; Harrison's maintaining power.
Lever escapement; pendant-operated quarter-repeat; Emery type (Mudge type).
White enamel dial; hours 1-12.
- Production date
Diameter: 46.10 millimetres (back-plate)
Diameter: 52.20 millimetres (dial)
Thickness: 20.60 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Comment from Richard Good, Catalogue of Watches in the British Museum. Vol. V (Unpublished manuscript)
Made by Robert Robin(1)
Paris, c. 1790
Movement of a 3-repeating watch with an early club-tooth lever escapement
Signature: On the back plate 'Robin A Paris N 558'. Within the scrolling of the 'R' of 'Robin' is a small punched 5-point star and to the right of the signature a small punched crescent mark. On the dial below 6 o'clock, 'ROBIN HGER DU ROI'. On the dial plate edge 'ROBIN HR. DU ROI'.
Dial & Hands: Domed dial with Arabic hour numerals. The dial is signed on the reverse 'Lucard'(2). Dial badly chipped and repaired. The hands are now missing although the watch formerly had a blued-steel moon-pattern hour hand.
Dial-Plate: In the form of a ring secured to the front plate by three dog screws. There is engraved foliate and lozenge decoration around the edge.
Dust-Cap: None intended.
Ebauche marks: None.
Frame: Full plate construction with four turned pillars. The movement hinge and case catch are secured to the front plate. Screwed to the front plate is a large polished steel bridge with a pipe which carries the hour wheel. There is a long rectangular slot in the back plate radiating from the balance centre, as if for an Arnold detent. The balance bridge table is pierced out to form an open work five-point star with a sun burst at the centre. There is a key-hole shaped cock on the back plate for the fusee arbor. On the inside of the back plate there is a potence for the balance and a cock for the pallets each with a polished steel end-plate retained by a screw. On the outside of the back plate there is a separate cock for the repeat train regulator.
Fusee barrel and mainspring:
Fusee: five-turn fusee with Harrison's maintaining power with a steel maintaining ratchet wheel. The maintaining detent spring is mounted vertically in a polished steel plate screwed to the outside of the back plate. The fusee stop-iron spring is of flat section and highly polished.
Barrel: a wide flange at the cover end. The ratchet and click for the set-up work are mounted on the back plate, the ratchet almost certainly a replacement. Internal diameter 19.6mm, height 3.4 mm.
Mainspring: height 3.12 mm, thickness 0.24 mm.
Barrel Arbor: diameter 7.0 mm, not snailed. The central steel core of the barrel is octagonal and is fitted into a brass sleeve. This brass sleeve is then covered by a further brass sleeve enlargement. The ends of all three components are undercut.
Hooking: formerly T-piece but now replaced by standard round hooking. It appears that both outer and inner ends of the spring have been re-hooked(3).
Train: The brass wheels polished, the pinions with thin round topped leaves and correspondingly wide spaces. The fourth pinion not original. The centre, third and fourth wheels have four crossings not particularly well executed.
Jewelling: There are no jewels but instead there are polished steel coquerets for the pallets and balance.
Escapement: A straight-line layout lever escapement similar to Robin's watch no. 370, cat. no. 2 (registration no. 1958,1201.1153). The thin brass escape wheel has four crossing. The escape wheel teeth lock onto radial locking surfaces of the pallets, the club-tooth form giving divided lift. The teeth are not slotted or drilled to retain oil, and no part of the escapement is jewelled. The fork and roller action is also similar cat. no. 2, except that the fork, screwed onto the pallet frame is made of nickel, and perhaps is a later replacement. The pallet frame is threaded onto its staff. Two holes, 1.0 mm apart, have been drilled in the back plate for the upper pallet staff pivot on the centre line of the escapement, the one nearer the balance is the one used. These holes are unusual in that the inner surface is concave and the outer surface where the oil sink would normally be is convex.
Balance and Spring: A light-weight plain brass flat rimmed three-arm balance, diameter 21.3 mm, thickness 0.5 mm. Undersprung with a flat spiral spring of blued steel, of just over 6 full turns. The balance spring pinned to a block on the back plate.
Means of regulation: A geared regulator with a silver index disc inscribed 'Avance 12 8 4 4 8 12 Retard', with a blued steel indicator. On the reverse side of the disc is the scratched inscription 'A Marechal le 3 8Bre 1825'. Over this is, in a different hand, a further inscription 'Faire le 24 Julliet 1828'.
Train counts and Beat Rate:
Great wheel 60 (fusee)
Centre wheel 70 pinion 10
Third wheel 56 pinion 7
Fourth wheel 60 pinion 7
Escape wheel 15 pinion 8
Beat Rate: 18,000
Motion work: Cannon pinion 12
minute pinion 12, minute wheel 36
hour wheel 40
Repeat mechanism: Continental type pendant operated quarter repeating mechanism with a chain drive to circular racks, powered by a fixed barrel. Under the barrel, the plate has a turned recess but the mainspring does not project beyond the barrel wall and so does not enter it. A later hole has been drilled in the back plate to allow the repeat mainspring to be libricated. The three solid wheel gear train between the plates drives a recoil escapement, with a single z-shaped pallet, which controls the speed at which the train runs. For adjusting the speed there is a plug in the back plate. The plug is squared for a key and carries a blued steel hand which indicates against an engraved divided scale on the back plate marked L (lente) and V (vite). In the plug is a wire detent which, as the plug is turned, is moved nearer or further from the pallet counterpoise, thus reducing or increasing the free travel of the pallet to regulate the speed of striking. There are two screw holes and one steady-pin hole at the edge of the back plate above the case which may have been for the attachment of the foot of the wire gong/gongs for the repeat. However it seems to have been more common at this period to attach the gongs to the inside of the case.
Great wheel 42
Second wheel 36 pinion 7
Third wheel 30 pinion 7
Escape wheel 10 pinion 7
Repeat barrel: a fixed barrel screwed to the underside of the back plate. Internal diameter 10.3 mm, height 1.7 mm
Mainspring: height 1.6 mm, thickness 0.16 mm, not polished and probably a replacement.
Barrel Arbor: diameter 3.3 mm, not snailed.
Hooking: The outer end of the mainspring passes through a slot cut in the barrel wall and hooks onto the outside of the barrel.
Winding Mechanism: Key wound.
Movement: front plate diameter 49.3 mm, back plate diameter 46.5 mm, frame height 13.0 mm.
Dial ring: diameter 52.3 mm.
Provenance: Formerly in the Ilbert Collection. Purchased by Ilbert from Contarde in 1938.
(1) Robert Robin was born in 1742 and received the Royal Appointment to Louis XVI. In 1793 he tried to leave Paris, but having no passport was caught up and imprisoned with Antide Janvier at Saint-Pelagie. He later made clocks with decimal indications and, according to Tardy, 1972 p. 562 was cited as 'horloger du Directoire' in 1795 (year VI of the Revolutionary Calendar).
(2) For another example of a dial signed Lucard and a biographical note on this dial enameller see see cat. no. 2 note 1 (registration no. 1958,1201.1153).
(3) It is likely that the mainspring, having broken, was shortened thus necessitating the additional brass sleeve to the barrel arbor.
The escapement may have been experimental or may have subsequently been altered. The large slot in the back plate suggests that the original frame was destined to have a pivoted detent escapement but evidence suggests that such an escapement was never fitted. An extra ungilded cut away area in the side of the slot allows viewing of the entrance pallet/escape wheel action. There is also a circular hole in the back plate which allows the exit pallet to be viewed. The fact that there are two pivot holes for the pallets in the back plate both gilded may suggest that there were alterations made to the escape during manufacture.
A remarkably similar watch was described in Cedric Jagger, "Robin's 'Revolutionary' Lever Watch No.3", 'Antiquarian Horology', Vol V (December 1965), pp.21-23. One difference is that the escapement, instead of being in line, has the wheel to pallet centre line at right angles to the balance to pallet centre line. This watch is signed 'Robin No 3' and bears inscriptions from which the date of manufacture can reasonably be assessed as 1792. Around the edge of the engraved dial ring appears the incomplete inscription 'Robin H" du-'. The word 'ROI' is missed out and the du is incomplete. The dial is signed 'ROBIN DE LA SOC.te DES INVtons et DECOUVERTS'. According to the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, Paris, this Society existed for only a few months in 1792.
- Not on display
Latest: 4 very dirty, some inactive corrosion
3 (Dec 1994)
Dial damaged and repaired at 1 o'clock.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Following the successful acquisition of the celebrated Ilbert collection of clocks (1958,1006 collection), prints and other related materials made possible by the generous donation of funds by Gilbert Edgar CBE, Ilbert's watches were then acquired using funds provided by Gilbert Edgar, public donations and government funds.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: CAI.1154 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: P243 (Ilbert Ledger)