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    Sale 1357

    Important Watches

    17 November 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 334

    Smith & Son. A fine and rare 18K gold openface split seconds chronograph keyless lever watch with 60 minutes register


    Price Realised  


    Smith & Son. A fine and rare 18K gold openface split seconds chronograph keyless lever watch with 60 minutes register
    Signed S. Smith & Son, 9 Strand, London, No. 159-1895, Non-Magnetic, Class A "Kew" Certificate, 72.9 Marks, stamped with London date letter for 1894
    Nicole Nielsen 1st Quality three quarter plate fully jewelled gilt-finished movement, raised barrel, double roller lever escapement, bimetallic balance with gold and platinum screws, free sprung Palladium balance spring with overcoil and diamond endstone, gold cuvette, off-white Willis dial, Arabic numerals, two sunk subsidiary dials for 60 minutes register and constant seconds, heavy circular case, split seconds chronograph mechanism operated through a button in the band and through the crown, case stamped F.T. London for Fred Thoms and with London date letter for 1894, dial and movement signed and numbered
    54 mm. diam.

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    With National Physical Laboratory Test Report dated 29 September 1995 confirming that the present watch was submitted by Smith & Sons for a Class A test at the Kew Observatory from 1 May to 14 June 1895. It obtained 72.9 marks and as a result, a Class Kew A Certificate was issued.

    Furthermore delivered with photocopies from Smith & Sons Ltd. period "Guide to the Purchase of a Watch - With Illustrations", section "English Split-Seconds Chronographs - One of the Finest Productions of Horological Science", containing an illustration and detailed description of the present watch as well as three testimonials from past owners, praising its performance even under difficult conditions.

    Most notably is the report from D.E. Bernard, "Official Timekeeper N.C.U." (National Cyclists' Union), extolling the virtues of watch no. 159-1895 in short and long races. Established in 1878 as the "Bicycle Union" with the aim of organizing and regulating bicycle racing in Great Britain, the association was renamed the "National Cyclists' Union" in 1883. It banned all cycle racing on public roads in 1890 and, with some exceptions, the NCU ran British cycle racing unchallenged until 1942. In 1959, the NCU and the British League of Racing Cyclists merged to form the UCI (International Cycling Organisation) recognised British Cycling Federation.

    According to the engraved inscription Class A Kew Certificate 72.9 Marks, the present watch participated at a Kew Observatory timing contest in 1895. It is furthermore fitted with a movement supplied by the famous Nicole Nielsen featuring a non-magnetic Palladium balance spring, the typical off-white Willis dial and Thoms case. Frederick Willis was renowned for his high quality dials and Fred Thoms for his exceptional cases, both supplied to the best English watchmakers for their most prestigious timepieces.