- Museum number
Carriage clock; spring-driven; lever escapement; temperature compensated balance; alarm and half-quarter-repeating mechanisms wound by two fine chains; dial indicating hours, minutes, seconds, age and phase of moon and alarm-setting; apertures in lower half for calendar indications; silver 'hump-back' case. With leather carrying case.
- Production date
Height: 15.50 centimetres
Width: 12.10 centimetres
Depth: 6 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 138.
Abraham Louis Breguet
Humpback carriage clock with alarm
Height 15.5 cm, width 12.1 cm, depth 6.0 cm
Abraham Louis Breguet is said to have been the inventor of the carriage clock, which usually took the form of a clock in a metal framed case glazed on all four sides, with a carrying handle at the top. For his highest quality carriage clocks, however, Breguet used a case of individual design consisting of a round-topped 'humpback' case with silver chains at the top for carrying. The firm of Breguet et Fils made these carriage clocks between about 1812 and 1830 and this particular example of 1822 is typical. It was sold to a Colonel Cook on 7 October 1822 for 4,800 francs, at the time a tidy sum of money.
This superbly-made, spring-driven clock has a duration of eight days and a detached lever escapement. It is of a typically elegant Breguet design with a fine engine-turned dial-plate which provides a restrained background for the various dials and subsidiaries. It indicates hours and minutes on the main dial, and has a subsidiary seconds dial below XII as well as further subsidiaries for the age and phase of the moon on the left and for alarm setting on the right. In addition to striking the hours in passing, there is also a repeat mechanism which strikes the half-quarters and the hours on steel-wire gongs when a chain is pulled. In order to save space, the wire gongs are carefully curved to follow the shape of the movement. Below the main dial is a perpetual calendar with four apertures showing the days of the week, the date, the month and the year. The sophisticated calendar mechanism automatically adjusts for the leap years.
The clock is signed on the movement 'Breguet et Fils Hgrs de la Marine Royale No. 3629'. However, this is curiously engraved on a separate piece of brass, which is fairly crudely soldered into the back plate. It is difficult to accept that this could have been done in Breuget's workshops. On the other hand, all the French case marks are correct for this carriage clock, which is clearly not an accidental marriage of movement, dial and case.
The silver case has the maker's mark LA L with a fleur-de-lys above and a star below, probably the mark of the Parisian silversmith Louis Legay whose business was near Breguet's in Quai de L'Horloge. This characteristic Breguet design of clock was copied in London and a number of examples survive made by the partnership of James Ferguson Cole and his brother Thomas and also by Joseph Jump (1827-1899).
S. E. Prestige
Collection Purchased in 1969.
For a bust of Abraham Louis Breguet see registration no. 1958,1006.3396.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976 15 May-20 Sep, Switzerland, La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Musee Internationale d'Horologie, Abraham-Louis Breguet
- Latest: 2 (Aug 2015)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Sold to Colonel Cooke, 7th October 1822 for 4,800 francs.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number