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    Sale 1357

    Important Watches

    17 November 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 319

    Gout. A rare and unusual silver gilt and black lacquer verge watch combined with a pedometer


    Price Realised  


    Gout. A rare and unusual silver gilt and black lacquer verge watch combined with a pedometer
    Signed Ralph Gout, London, Gouts Patent, No. 109, circa 1800
    Gilt-finished verge movement, chain fusée, finely engraved and pierced floral decorated balance cock and foot, white enamel dial, outer sweep seconds scale calibrated for 100 seconds, small hour dial with Roman numerals, two subsidiary dials calibrated for 100 and 10 paces, silver gilt and black lacquer pinwork decorated outer case, a stem passing through the pendant activating the pedometer, case numbered, dial signed, movement signed and numbered
    57 mm. diam.

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    The watch and clock maker Ralph Gout was working at 6 Norman Street from 1770 to 1800 and at 122 Birchin Lane in 1815. In 1796 he patented a simple pedometer and later a device for measuring the revolution of a carriage wheel. He specialized in the manufacture of watches for the Turkish market and appears to have been an early importer of Swiss watches.

    The extraordinary pedometer mechanism was designed to measure the paces of a horse when attached to a saddle. It was patented by Gout in 1799, patent no. 2351, and the watch movement, verge escapement and chain fusée, was considered robust enough to tolerate considerable jolting. The watch moves up and down with each pace of the horse which causes the pendant, attached to a leather cord or metal rod, to be pulled in and out of the movement, thus activating the pedometer mechanism. Pedometers were popular in the late 18th century but only those made by Gout included a watch mechanism. The saddle pedometer is hardly practical and must have been prone to serious damage during use.

    It is interesting to note that the famous Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the design of the first pedometer in the 15th century.

    For a description and illustration of Ralph Gout's watch and pedometer no. 49 see The Camerer Cuss Book of Antique Watches, pp. 160 & 161, pl. 94.