• Important Watches  auction at Christies

    Sale 2212

    Important Watches

    15 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 82

    TOMPION. A VERY FINE, RARE AND EARLY SILVER PAIR CASE VERGE WATCH

    SIGNED THOMAS TOMPION, LONDON, MOVEMENT NO. 2934, CIRCA 1699

    Price Realised  

    TOMPION. A VERY FINE, RARE AND EARLY SILVER PAIR CASE VERGE WATCH
    SIGNED THOMAS TOMPION, LONDON, MOVEMENT NO. 2934, CIRCA 1699
    Full plate gilt-finished verge movement, chain fusée, pierced and chased cock and foot, pierced tulip pillars, silver champlevé dial, Roman numerals, outer Arabic five-minute divisions, later hands, plain silver inner case with makers mark W.A. for William Achurch, plain outer case, dial and movement signed, pillar-plate punched with the letter E 25
    Outer case 55mm diam., inner case 49mm diam.


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    Thomas Tompion (1639-1713), known as "The Father of English Clockmaking", was England's foremost watch and clock maker. Though today Tompion is mainly known for his clocks during his lifetime it was for his watches that he was most famous.
    The present lot is a very rare example unknown to the market until now and does not appear in Jeremy Evans published monograph and check list of Tompion works, published in 2006. The present example is rarer still having survived with its original cases and champleve dial. The watch is thought to have cost 11 pounds sterling in 1699 which was the equivalent of about four months salary for a well paid journeyman watchmaker.

    Further to the rarity and freshness to the market of the Tompion 2934 is the presence of the punched mark E with number 25 is of particular interest. This is a batch mark and it would have been placed by an employee, one of Tompion's watchmakers, whose surname began with the letter E.

    We are indebted to Mr. Jeremy Evans for his valuable assistance in researching this very rare and important timepiece.

    Provenance

    The Estate of Leopold Metzenberg (Executive, Sears, Roebuck & Co.)
    Gift to present owner, 1952


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
    (LOTS 82-96)

    Chicago's renowned Museum of Science and Industry celebrated its 75 anniversary on June 19, 2008. Over the last century, they have educated the public using interactive and hands on exhibits on topics ranging from the sciences to agriculture, energy and technology. From 1942 until the 1980s, the museum's Hall of Timekeeping, sponsored by the Elgin Watch Company gave the public an overview the history of horology. The exhibit was closed in the 80s due to fire damage. The museum later organized an exhibition called Time which was on view from 2001 until 2004. This exhibit included timepieces from the Rockford Time Museum, the City of Chicago National Time Museum as well as private collectors and timepieces owned by the museum itself.

    Julius Rosenwald, the Chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company was a founder of the museum and in the 1920s donated $3 million to convert the old Palace of Fine Arts into an interactive museum based on the model of the Munich, Deutsches Museum. Leopold Metzenberg another Sears executive, a passionate watch collector, was a propoent of the museum and upon his death gifted many watches to the museum. Some of the present watches are part of that donation.