The present clock watch is an impressive example of a so-called "zimingzhong" or "self-ringing bells" watch made for a Chinese dignitary. Mainly used as status symbols, decorative items or personal adornments, these highly elaborate watches served only occasionally as timepieces.
The famous London based watch manufacturer Brockbanks & Atkins was originally founded around 1761 by the brothers John & Myles Brockbanks, both members of the Clockmakers Guild. The firm specialized in the production of high quality chronometers and employed at times the renowned chronometer makers Thomas Earnshaw and Peto. Between 1775 and 1815 the bothers Samuel and Elliot Atkins joined as partner and consequently the firm was renamed Brockbanks & Atkins.
Brockbank also specialized in the manufacture of watches and clocks for the Chinese market: a magnificent Imperial gilt-bronze musical clock signed "Jno Brockbank No. 19" was part of a group of clocks ordered by a Guangdong official and rendered as tribute to the Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795). A "large gilt bronze vase of large jeweled flowers set atop large rectangular base containing the clockface and having painted moving scenes, ca. 1770" is listed in Lu Yanzhen's "Qinggong zhongbiao zhencang" or "Precious Collection of Qing-Dynasty Palace Clocks", p. 121 - see Eastern Magnificence and European Ingenuity: Clocks of Late Imperial China by Catherine Pagani, p. 189. Brockbank's musical clock no. 19 made for Emperor Qianlong is also mentioned in op. cit., p. 79.