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J.W. BENSON. A HIGHLY IMPORTANT, UNIQUE AND MAGNIFICENT TRIP-MINUTE REPEATING 18K GOLD ASTRONOMIC DOUBLE-DIALLED OPENFACE KEYLESS LEVER NAVIGATOR'S WATCH WITH TRIPLE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH, 60-MINUTE REGISTER, TACHYMETER, EQUATION OF TIME, CONCEALED DATE, 24-HOUR WORLD TIME FOR 63 CITIES, SUNRISE AND SUNSET INDICATIONS FOR LONDON, ZODIAX INDICATION AND CELESTIAL PLANISPHERE SKYMAP
J.W. BENSON. A HIGHLY IMPORTANT, UNIQUE AND MAGNIFICENT TRIP-MINUTE REPEATING 18K GOLD ASTRONOMIC DOUBLE-DIALLED OPENFACE KEYLESS LEVER NAVIGATOR'S WATCH WITH TRIPLE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH, 60-MINUTE REGISTER, TACHYMETER, EQUATION OF TIME, CONCEALED DATE, 24-HOUR WORLD TIME FOR 63 CITIES, SUNRISE AND SUNSET INDICATIONS FOR LONDON, ZODIAX INDICATION AND CELESTIAL PLANISPHERE SKYMAP
J.W. BENSON. A HIGHLY IMPORTANT, UNIQUE AND MAGNIFICENT TRIP-MINUTE REPEATING 18K GOLD ASTRONOMIC DOUBLE-DIALLED OPENFACE KEYLESS LEVER NAVIGATOR'S WATCH WITH TRIPLE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH, 60-MINUTE REGISTER, TACHYMETER, EQUATION OF TIME, CONCEALED DATE, 24-HOUR WORLD TIME FOR 63 CITIES, SUNRISE AND SUNSET INDICATIONS FOR LONDON, ZODIAX INDICATION AND CELESTIAL PLANISPHERE SKYMAP
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J.W. BENSONTHE BENSON SUPERCOMPLICATION WITH TRIPLE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH & CELESTIAL SKY CHART
J.W. BENSON. A HIGHLY IMPORTANT, UNIQUE AND MAGNIFICENT TRIP-MINUTE REPEATING 18K GOLD ASTRONOMIC DOUBLE-DIALLED OPENFACE KEYLESS LEVER NAVIGATOR'S WATCH WITH TRIPLE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH, 60-MINUTE REGISTER, TACHYMETER, EQUATION OF TIME, CONCEALED DATE, 24-HOUR WORLD TIME FOR 63 CITIES, SUNRISE AND SUNSET INDICATIONS FOR LONDON, ZODIAX INDICATION AND CELESTIAL PLANISPHERE SKYMAP

SIGNED J.W. BENSON, LONDON, CIRCA 1900

Details
J.W. BENSON. A HIGHLY IMPORTANT, UNIQUE AND MAGNIFICENT TRIP-MINUTE REPEATING 18K GOLD ASTRONOMIC DOUBLE-DIALLED OPENFACE KEYLESS LEVER NAVIGATOR'S WATCH WITH TRIPLE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH, 60-MINUTE REGISTER, TACHYMETER, EQUATION OF TIME, CONCEALED DATE, 24-HOUR WORLD TIME FOR 63 CITIES, SUNRISE AND SUNSET INDICATIONS FOR LONDON, ZODIAX INDICATION AND CELESTIAL PLANISPHERE SKYMAP
SIGNED J.W. BENSON, LONDON, CIRCA 1900
Movement: Manual, 35 jewels
Dial: White enamel, both signed
Case: Three-body, Approx. 76 mm. diam.
With: Photocopies of correspondence between a former owner of the watch, Ralph Shermund, and the New York watchmaker Karl Pepla, dated 13th November 1956, translated into German on 9th July 1979
Provenance
The collection of Benjamin Mellenhoff, head of service and repair at Tiffany & Co., New York, by 1947.
Ralph Shermund, California, before 1956.
Cleaned and serviced by Karl Pepla, New York, 1956.
Sale room notice
This watch also has grande Petite Sonnerie Striking.

Brought to you by

Remi Guillemin
Remi Guillemin Head of Department, Geneva

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Lot Essay

After many decades in an important private collection, the re-emergence of this incredible ‘supercomplication’ watch is tremendously exciting. An outstanding example of late 19th century watchmaking this watch was quite famous in the mid-20th century when it was extensively featured in the Horological Institute of America’s journal in September 1947, along with another English ‘supercomplicated’ watch by J. Player & Son of Coventry that had been made for the American Financier J. Pierpont Morgan. In 1947, the present watch was the property of the head watchmaker at Tiffany & Co. in New York, Benjamin Mellenhoff.

Together with the Dent Grand Complication made for James Ward Packard, S. Smith & Sons’ Grand Complication No. 309-2 and the J. Player & Sons’ ‘supercomplication’ for Pierpont Morgan, the Benson ‘supercomplication’ is one of the greatest English watches of the period. What sets this exceptional watch apart however is that rarest of horological complications – the celestial sky chart – a rotating planisphere of the heavenly bodies showing the appearance of the night sky at the time indicated on the dial. Perhaps of even greater significance is the extremely rare triple-split-seconds chronograph function with 60-minute register.

The Triple-Split-Chronograph
The triple-split-seconds chronograph is a true phenomenon and immense rarity, one or two other pocket watches are known with this complication although the present watch is entirely unique as an ultra-complicated watch with triple-split-chronograph. Its purpose is for the timing of three events simultaneously, the three hands of the chronograph are operated by depressing the crown successively. One press starts all three hands together, the second press stops one hand whilst the other two continue, a further press stops the next hand and again the final hand. Finally one further press returns all three hands back to zero. Elapsed minutes are recorded on the subsidiary register up to 60-minutes. Interestingly, there are three chronograph mechanisms - two are located under the sky chart and the third, which is the last to be stopped when activated is located under the meantime dial. The outer tachymeter scale is calibrated for miles per hour from ¼ mile distances.

The Astronomical Indications Dial
Watches constructed with a celestial planisphere are amongst the great horological masterpieces and, until the early 21st century, are known only on a handful of the world’s most famous pocket watches, in particular those made by Patek Philippe including the legendary Graves Supercomplication. The present watch has its celestial chart on a white enamel disc which is a complete skymap north of 23 ½ degrees, it is unusual in showing the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, it has a rotation ratio of 366/365 and is driven from the barrel shaft. The indications for Sunrise and Sunset on separate dials are calibrated for London. The outer 24-hour dial is calibrated with Roman numerals I-XII in each half and corresponds to the names of 63 world cities and showing the differences in longitude. The astrological year is represented by the 12 signs of the zodiac with a hand that is geared to change on the 21st day of the month, it is concentric with the equation of time sector, the actual day of the month can be read on a small silver-plated dial located beneath the bezel.

Equation of Time
For a watch with an equation mechanism, an indication of the date is always required because the equation varies continuously throughout the year. The date indication for the present watch is ingeniously concealed beneath the back bezel. This information is useful when setting a watch to time given by a sundial. By adding or subtracting the equation for the day, as indicated by the hand, the sundial time could be corrected to mean time.
The equation of time in astronomy is the quantity that needs to be added or subtracted to switch from real time given by the sun, to the mean time; our time, which arbitrarily divided a day in 24 hours. The equation of time varies from one day to another, its value swings between around -16 to +16 seconds per day. By cumulating these differences, we obtain a variation between the real noon and the mean noon of more or less 15 minutes. The most important differences are, function of the years, toward February 12 (+14 minutes and 59 seconds) and November 3 (-16 minutes and 15 seconds). The difference is zero toward April 15, June 15, September 1 and December 24. It should be known that today, due to the summer time and the winter time, we live with a difference of two or three hours relative to the sun; our daily noon corresponding to the solar noon of Central Europe.
The equation of time also gives information about the equinoxes of spring (21 - 22 March) and autumn (22 - 23 September), as well as the solstices of summer (toward 21 June 21) and winter (toward 21 December). The equinox is the moment when the sun is on the plane of the equator, thus leading to days equal to nights. The solstice is the moment when the sun is in the farthest position from the equator, resulting in the longest day and the longest night. These dates determine the seasons of the year.

The Complications
Minute repeating
Chronograph
Split-seconds chronograph
Further Split-seconds chronograph
60-minute chronograph register
World city indication
Celestial planisphere
Zodiac indication
Sunrise indication
Sunset indication
Equation of time
Date

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