- Museum number
Carriage clock; eight-day spring-driven movement with one minute tourbillon lever escapement; bimetallic compensation balance and free-sprung balance spring; striking mechanism for grande and petite sonnerie and quarter-repeat mechanism sounding on two steel gongs; engine-turned silver dial plate with three white enamel dials; main dial for hours and minutes with subsidiary seconds; lower dials for 'up-and-down' indication; silver and black-painted brass case with carrying handle; outer leather case.
- Production date
Height: 16 centimetres
Width: 9.50 centimetres
Depth: 6.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 160.
London, c. 1905
Height 16 cm, width 9.5 cm, depth 6.5 cm
By the beginning of the twentieth century the carriage clock already had a long history. In many ways, with some notable exceptions, the general quality of carriage clocks had deteriorated since Abraham Louis Breguet's pioneering work. In stark contrast to the off-the-peg variety commonly available is this masterpiece of clockmaking by the renowned firm Nicole Nielsen of 14 Soho Square, London. Adolphe Nicole and Emil Nielsen had a reputation second to none in the field of high-quality clock- and watchmaking. The firm became famous for its use of precision machinery in the production of clocks and watches, which were made not only for their own retail but also for many other leading London makers and retailers.
This particular clock is signed Nicole Nielsen & Co. 14 Soho Square London no. 11558'. It is a small silver-cased, eight-day carriage clock which is to some extent based on the Breguet 'pendule de voyage' design described on page 138 (registration no. 1969,0303.3). There are the usual dials for hours, minutes and seconds, but in addition there are two 'up-and-down' dials which show the state of winding of the two mainsprings. The movement has a lever escapement with a one-minute revolving tourbillon; the escapement is mounted on a carriage which constantly revolves. This idea, introduced by Abraham Louis Breguet in the late eighteenth century, was intended to remove timekeeping errors caused in the oscillating balance when the clock is put in different positions. By constantly changing the position of the escapement and balance, the errors are averaged out. This small clock also has optional grande-sonnerie or petite-sonnerie striking, the former striking the hours and quarters at every quarter, the latter striking the quarters alone and the hour on the hour. As a final sophistication it can be made to repeat the last hour and quarter at the press of a button. It is protected whilst travelling by a leather carrying-case.
The clock dates from the beginning of the twentieth century, probably about 1905, and is one of a group often such clocks, some of which were made for the well-known firm of Frodshams in London. They are numbered from 11553-11559.
Purchased in 1987.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1991, London, The British Museum, Collecting the Twentieth Century
- Latest: 2 (Aug 2015)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number