Formerly the Property of Seth G. Atwood
"What then is time? If no one asks me, I know; if someone asks me to explain, I know not" Seth G. Atwood, quoting 4th century theologian St. Augustine.
Seth G. Atwood, industrialist, financier, public servant and collector, was born in 1917 in Rockford, Illinois, where the family had originally settled in 1839, today the popular Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve and Golf Course. The Atwood's had made their fortune with the Atwood Vacuum Machine Company, founded in 1909. By the 1920s, the firm had shifted from the manufacture of vacuum cleaners to door silencers for automobiles and later to a complete line of auto body hardware with 2,200 employees.
Seth G. Atwood attended Carleton College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. from Stanford University in 1938. After a year at the University of Wisconsin, he obtained an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1940, followed by a service as an officer in the US Navy from 1942 to 1946, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander. After his return to Rockford he joined his father Seth B. Atwood and his uncle James T. Atwood in running Atwood Vacuum Machine Company. In 1953, Seth G. was made president of the firm when his father became chairman of the board. He also managed various family businesses involving banking, venture capital and real estate properties, amongst them a large motel on the edge of Rockford, the Clock Tower Inn, which was to become the home of the Time Museum.
Already at a young age, Seth G. Atwood was fascinated by the concept of time and the continuous struggling with it and eventually started another career as a collector of fine timepieces. What was to become one of the world's most important Horological Collection begun around 1968 with his first acquisition, a quarter repeater made in the late 17th century by the celebrated Thomas Tompion.
Seth G. Atwood's original idea was the creation of a small private collection of high quality time-telling instruments which should include the names of all the great masters in the field. "I decided to try to collect a few items, artefacts that showed the development of time-finding and timekeeping devices as we normally use them to order our lives. This is time's primary usage [...] I knew from the beginning, however, that if I was going to collect, I wanted to acquire pieces that were of quality." (Thomas H. Carver, The Engineer´s Art, Invention & Technology, Fall 1992, Volume 8, Issue 2).
With the help of fellow collectors, specialists and curators, the collection gradually grew and became within a few years one of the world's most elaborate and complete watch collections ever assembled. More and more visitors requested a visit and increasingly more space than his home could provide was needed, resulting in the foundation of the Time Museum in Rockford's "Clock Tower Inn" in 1970: a horological paradise where watch aficionados from all over the world would meet and share their enthusiasm for the over 3'000 items collected, the most complete collection in the world displaying the history of humankind's efforts to measure time with pieces extraordinary in quality and mostly one of a kind.
As time went by and with increasing age, Seth G. Atwood decided to part with his collection. Consequently the Time Museum closed its doors in 1999 and the timepieces were sold in the years to follow.
Christie's feel privileged to offer this masterpiece, formerly in the collection of Seth G. Atwood and never before offered at auction. Made for him by special order by the master watchmakers of Patek Philippe in Geneva, this watch is the epitome for Seth G. Atwood's passion for the mysteries of time.
Prominently illustrated and described in Patek Philippe by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, p. 208.