- Museum number
GOLD AND ENAMEL CASED CYLINDER WATCH WITH DUMB QUARTER-REPEAT AND EN-SUITE CHATELAINE.
Movement with cylinder escapement.
Enamelled case with medallions of George III and Queen Charlotte.
Chatelaine with medallions of Roman altar scene, head of Hercules, head of Mercury and a swan, all in neo-classical style.
With the watch a small leather-bound booklet: MEMORANDA (for Private Use) James Middleton Paton 1875.
- Production date
Length: 175 millimetres (watch and chatelaine)
- Curator's comments
Text from 'Watches', by David Thompson, London, 2008, p. 88-89.
GOLD CHATELAINE AND QUARTER-REPEATING WATCH
SIGNED: J. Leroux London N°. 2979'
The term 'chatelaine' dates from the nineteenth century and usually refers to a set of short chains hung from the belt that might hold a variety of items for daily use, such as keys and watches. This exceptional example of a gold and enamel pair-cased watch with en-suite chatelaine is a superb combination of the skills of the watchmaker, the watch-case maker and the enameller, producing a lavishly decorated commemorative piece of the highest quality.
The watch itself has a finely made movement with fusee and cylinder escapement. It is a dumb-quarter repeating watch, producing a series of single and double 'taps' on a block inside the inner case to mark the last hour and quarter when the watch pendant is pushed down. It was made by John Leroux of 8 Charing Cross, London, whose output ranged from turret clocks to domestic clocks to watches. The earliest reference to him dates from 1744, and he is known to have paid rates on a large house in Spring Gardens, London, in the 1770s. The last record of him dates from 1808, probably following his death, when the business was taken over by James Rugby. Leroux is best known in the horological world for his work in the late 1780s in perfecting the detached lever escapement for watches, of which two important examples survive: a finely made gold cased watch in the Clockmakers' Company Collections and a watch movement in the British Museum.
The gold inner case of the watch is plain, except for the maker's mark 'I.M' - probably that of John Morecock of Ropemaker's Alley, Moorfields - and the London hallmark for 1777-8. The gold outer case was made by Mary Reasey, whose mark, 'MR' in cameo, appears inside the case.
Both outer case and chatelaine are covered with a guilloché green enamel design on which are two profile portraits in grisaille enamel of King George III and Queen Charlotte. These fine-quality miniatures strongly reflect the Neo-classical style prevalent in England in the mid-1770s. The elaborate chatelaine, with its large belt-hook, enamel plaques and series of hooks, is of similar design and quality, making this a truly magnificent example of the genre.
The enameller who decorated this watch case was one of the most accomplished in London at the time. William Hopkins Craft (?1730-1810) worked for a while in Paris, and later worked with Josiah Wedgwood. He exhibited pieces at the Royal Academy and much of his work at this time was based on antique engraved gems. This case is no exception, for the designs for the heads of Hercules and Medusa are taken from classical gems, examples of which can be found in the British Museum's collections today. These gems were widely published in the eighteenth century and were frequently copied in a variety of media until well into the nineteenth century.
A final important point of interest is the provenance of the watch. It belonged to the eminent physician Sir James Napier, who died in 1797, and may have been given to him to commemorate receiving his knighthood in 1778.
Associated dates : 1875.
Bibliography: Paton, James Middleton, MEMORANDA FOR THE USE OF THOSE RELATIVES WHO MAY SUCCEED HIM, Montrose 1875, p.11. Tait, Hugh, Sir James Napier's Watch, ANTIQUE COLLECTOR, London December 1983 pp.73-75.
- On display (G46/dc22)
- Latest: 3 (2017)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number