With original Kew Observatory Certificate dated 14 September 1906 confirming that the watch obtained a Class A "especially good" rating with a mark of 90.8 points. This Certificate was later cancelled and replaced by The National Physical Laboratory Rating Department Certificate dated 21 May 1946 stating that the watch was tested again from 2 April to 16 May 1946. This latter replacement Certificate as well as a set of copies from The National Physical Laboratory with rating results of the watch are also delivered with this lot. Furthermore with Charles Frodsham & Co. Ltd. Certificate of Origin dated 1 March 2011, confirming that the present tourbillon with movement supplied by Nicole Nielsen & Co. and Kew A Certificate was entered in the firm's 1906 stock.
Between 1899 and 1928 Charles Frodsham submitted over 40 tourbillons to Kew for testing, including many of the celebrated minute repeating split-second chronograph tourbillon watches made especially for John Pierpoint Morgan as presentation pieces to new partners in the firm of J.P. Morgan.
Charles Frodsham (1810-1871) was a leading manufacturer of high-quality clocks, watches and chronometers and the last active member of a family that had played a prominent role in London clockmaking since the late 18th century. In 1840, he became a partner of John Roger Arnold who inherited his famous father's business.
At the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, Frodsham exhibited a three quarter plate calibre signed with the letters "AD. FMSZ", a cryptogram for the year 1850. The code is formed by the numerical sequence of the letters in "Frodsham," with a "Z" for zero. The firm subsequently used the code for its most important timepieces.
The movement of the present watch was supplied by Nicole Nielsen, who, towards the end of the Victorian era and for the first 30 years of the 20th century, crafted some of the finest and most complicated English watches ever made.
In 1839 Adolphe Nicole and Jules Capt, both talented Swiss watchmakers, set up business in London at 80B Dean Street. The firm later moved to 14 Soho Square where it remained until the company finally closed in 1934. Nicole & Capt were highly successful and won medals in many international exhibitions such as Paris in 1855 and 1867, Philadelphia in 1878 and Sydney in 1879. In 1876 Jules Capt died and in the same year his place as partner was filled by the Danish-born watchmaker Sophus Emil Nielsen and the company became Nicole, Nielsen & Co. By 1880 the company was being run by Nielsen. They specialised in making super-complicated keyless watches often incorporating specifications such as perpetual calendar, chronograph, split seconds chronograph, repetition, temperature, equation of time and their most famous escapement; the Nicole Nielsen tourbillon. Invented by Breguet (1747-1823), the tourbillon is an escapement that revolves so that the balance pallets and escape wheel move through all the vertical positions in a given time period, usually once every minute. Delicate, expensive and fascinating to observe the tourbillon was Nicole, Nielsen's specialty. The Company designed their own tourbillon carriage, instantly recognisable and revered by collectors.
Many of their best watches were made for top retailers such as Smith & Sons, founded circa 1851, one of London's leading firms for high quality and complicated watches at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.