• The European Connoisseur  auction at Christies

    Sale 1141

    The European Connoisseur

    5 July 2013, London, King Street

  • Lot 134

    AN AUSTRIAN ORMOLU AND SILVER COLUMN TIMEPIECE CLOCK OF YEAR DURATION WITH CALENDAR AND MOONPHASE DIALS

    WILLENBACHER & RZEBITSCHEK, PRAGUE, CIRCA 1835

    Price Realised  

    AN AUSTRIAN ORMOLU AND SILVER COLUMN TIMEPIECE CLOCK OF YEAR DURATION WITH CALENDAR AND MOONPHASE DIALS
    WILLENBACHER & RZEBITSCHEK, PRAGUE, CIRCA 1835
    CASE: the architectural portico frame with the lion of Bohemia as the surmount, the entabulature with inset silver plaque engraved 'QUOTANNIS ME TANGAS', the oval base signed to the front 'WILLENBACHER & RZEBITSCHEK IN PRAG', on five paw feet, on a waisted oval giltwood plinth (not illustrated) with beaded border, with ink inventory stamp
    DIALS: the silver chapter ring with Roman hours and Arabic five minute marks and blued pierced steel hands, the calendar dial below with subsidiary silver dials indicating days of month, days of week and months, a further enamelled dial with revolving moon sphere
    MOVEMENT: the substantial oval plates joined by eight screwed pillars, the two large spring barrels wound from the underside via worm gearing, deadbeat escapement, with knife-edge suspension for the compensation pendulum, on the Ellicott principle, with brass and steel rods, adjustment screws and rating nut, 'Reaumur' thermometer scale with blued steel pointer; key
    19 3/8 in. (49.2 cm.) high; 7 5/8 in. (19.3 cm.) wide; 4¾ in. (12 cm.) deep; the giltwood plinth - 3½ in. (8.9 cm.) high; 14½ in. (36.9 cm.) wide; 10¼ in. (26 cm.) deep


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    Alois Willenbacher worked in partnership with Franz Rzebitschek in Prague from circa 1828 to 1842. They were particularly known for musical movements.

    Background: Essentially a 'one off' production and the result of a special order from Bohemian titled society who were inspired to require complications not normally found in clocks of the period. By tradition this clock was a wedding gift to Kaiser Franz in 1834.

    Technical Details: The main part of the train runs between massive kidney shape horizontal plates held between eight pillars which are fixed by screws at both ends. There are two symmetrically placed going barrels wound from below through worm gearing. The two great wheels mesh with a common second wheel pinion. Both second and third wheel lower pivots run each on three anti-friction rollers. The train up to the third wheel runs between the main plates. The fourth wheel runs between a subsidiary plate immediately above and engages with the lower pinion of the long vertical driving arbor, the upper pinion providing the drive for the calendar mechanism at the top end of the vertical driving arbor is a contrite wheel providing power to the faster moving parts of the going train which run between circular subsidiary plates, in which all pivots, where practical have ruby jewels with end stones and are separately cocked. The front pivots of the escape and one other wheel run on anti-friction rollers.
    The escapement is of the Vulliamy dead-beat type beating half seconds, the 'scape wheel having sixty teeth. The crutch is inverted and incorporates a beat adjustment. There is a knife edge suspension for the compensation pendulum on the Ellicott principle which comprises a central brass and two other steel rods, with a linkage at the lower ends connecting with the pendulum bob and which incorporates two adjustment screws and a rating nut. The pendulum has mounted on it a Reaumur thermometer with scale and blued steel pointer.
    The gilt-metal circular dial has a silver chapter ring with Roman hour numerals. The zone is engine turned and there are blued steel hands with concentric sweep seconds.
    The circular annual calendar dial is positioned immediately below, the drive being transmitted by a contrite wheel of equal diameter to the back plate for the calendar train. The calendar dial indicates date of the month at the top, day of the week at the left and month of the year at the right. All three subsidiaries have silver chapter rings. Below is a celestial disc with a revolving moon sphere. There is a centrally placed calendar set knob.
    Time dial 3¼ in. (9.5 cm.) diameter
    Calendar dial 3 11/16 in. (9.35 cm.) diameter

    Provenance

    By repute a gift from the people of Bohemia to Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria on the occasion of his marriage at Vienna in 1831 to Maria Anna of Sardinia.
    Dr. Sobek, Vienna.
    The Time Museum, Rockford, Illinois, inventory no. 553.
    Sotheby's, New York, Masterpieces from The Time Museum, 19 June 2002, lot 133.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION (LOTS 156-163)


    Literature

    Peter Heuer, Klaus Maurice Europäische Pendeluhren, Dekorative Instrumente der Zeitmessung, Munich, 1988, p. 294, pls. 650-651.
    Tardy, Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français, Paris, 1985, p.IV, pp. 328 & 378.
    Anon Schriften der 'Freunde alter Uhren', part II, Hiedelberg, 1961, p. 17.
    Bassermann-Jordan/von Bertele Lloyd The Book of Old Clocks and Watches, London, 1964, p. 253.


    Exhibited

    Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna, in the 1950's.