Dealer Leigh Extence previously ran ran the antique clock department in Harrods.

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1 How did you get your start?

I was at prep school with the nephew of famed horological dealer and author Derek Roberts, who would visit my parents’ antique shop in Devon when down our way. I had an interest in mechanical toys and I took an apprenticeship and ran the antique clock department in Harrods. Then, in 1984, Derek invited me to work alongside him in Tonbridge.

I had a wonderful time travelling the world and establishing relationships with some of the top collectors and dealers. After five years I went my own way but closed the circle in 2018 when I took on Derek’s last business Derval Antiques to run alongside my own. I also spend some days a month as the horological consultant at the Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood auction house in Exeter.

2 What projects have you worked on recently?

I travelled across the pond to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in July where I was one of a team that organised the carriage clock exhibition as part of the 80th convention of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors. While there I gave two lectures: one on Carriage Clocks of the World to accompany the exhibition and the other on the well-known carriage clock maker Alfred Drocourt in which I discussed the history of two clocks made by him that are in my own collection.


A clock made by Alfred Drocourt and given to Alice Liddell as a wedding present.

One was given as a wedding present to Alice Liddell – immortalised in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – and the other a gift from Queen Victoria to her favoured godson Victor Biddulph. Both of those clocks travelled with me to the convention.

3 What is one great discovery you have made?

When I was with Derek, we purchased several boxes full of clock parts which, after a number of years of research and wonderful restoration by our team, re-emerged as the stunning three-month duration astronomical clock by Edward Cockey of Warminster (1781-1860) as seen in numerous publications.

The clock was initially sold to a local entrepreneur who visited us in his helicopter to view it, landing on Tonbridge School playing fields. It eventually ended up in the home of a well-known sultan.

4 Do you have a collection in your home?

I have a collection of clocks and watches, most of which, due to security issues, unfortunately spend their time under lock and key – although I do allow a few to escape to display around the house.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

I’ll go with both please: a real ale to start the evening out with friends, followed later by an espresso martini.