Timekeepers don’t have to be centuries old to command a keen following. A vast collecting industry is built around the secondary market in big-brand wristwatches, for a start.
But it also extends further, to precision pieces of horology by individual master craftsmen and small firms whose work is now appreciated and collected.
George the fourth
Perhaps the most pre-eminent is George Daniels (1926-2011), whose small corpus of handmade watches command huge sums when they resurface on the market.
Sotheby’s will be selling the fourth and final part of his personal collection on July 6.
Included in this Celebration of the English Watch sale will be one of his own creations – a gold twin barrel, one minute tourbillon watch made for Edward Hornby in 1970 guided at £250,000-350,000, plus examples of British horology by other makers spanning the 17th to 20th centuries.
Other more affordable examples (relatively speaking) of 20th century precision horology can be found in London this summer. Roland Jarvis, who died last year aged 90, was an Anglo-French painter, sculptor and film maker who also designed and made highly-complex clocks in the winter months when his painting studio was too cold to work in.
Thus Daniels and Jarvis were working at the same time in precision horology during the 1980s and ‘90s.
First time for Jarvis
On June 29, Bonhams will be offering six clocks made by Jarvis in its London rooms.
This is the first tranche of Jarvis clocks to be offered by the auction house, with more to feature in Bonhams’ December sale.
Sussex-based Jarvis’ artistic output was mainly in the French Cubist tradition and this is reflected in the simple lines of an ebonized and glazed astronomical longcase clock shown here which has an estimate of £4000-6000 in this auction.
“He loved to mix as many complications as he could into a clock – if he could make it more brain-bending he would
It features an astonishing list of complications, from its precision month-going movement with remontoire deadbeat escapement to the planetarium and displays for perpetual calendar with sunrise, sunset, lunar and tidal indications.
“He loved to mix as many complications as he could into a clock. If he could make it more brain-bending he would,” says Bonhams’ specialist James Stratton.
Another piece of modern precision horology is on offer in Tennants’ Summer Fine Art sale on July 15.
The firm of Sinclair Harding, which started as a repair business in 1967, is continuing the long English tradition of producing precision clocks with high-quality complicated mechanisms.
An example can be found among the carriage clocks on sale in the North Yorkshire rooms in the form of a Sinclair Harding limited-edition giant carriage chronometer.
It is numbered 554/22 and dated c.1998, and has been consigned by its original purchaser.
The twin fusée movement has a platform detent escapement, moon phase and calendar work. It strikes and repeats on a bell.
The case is 16in (41cm) high and the estimate is £8000-12,000 in the Leyburn saleroom.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Gill.