The present watch is an extraordinary fine and rare example of a flower-shaped watch, very popular in England during the 16th and 17th centuries. Most noteworthy is its excellent overall condition, impressively emphasized by the crisp case decoration after more than 350 years of existence.
It was made by John Drake, a notorious watchmaker located at London's Fleet Street, neighbour to some of England's most celebrated watchmakers of the time such as Benjamin Hill, Edward East and Richard Child. A Blacksmiths' Company freeman since 1609, John Drake was reputed for his fierce temper. He always regarded his first loyalty as being to the Blacksmiths' Company, through whom he took no less than nineteen apprentices over a period of nearly half a century, suggesting a very busy workshop. Drake probably passed away around 1670.
Silver fleur-de-lis shaped watches dating from the first half of the 17th century signed J. Dracque or Dracques à Nérac or Anérac in the Garnier Collection in the Louvre and in the British Museum lead to the assumption that the latter may have emigrated to London and changed his name to John Drake. For a black and white image of such a fleur-de-lis shaped watch signed J. Dracques see Collection Paul Garnier, Musée du Louvre, chapter VII - Atelier de Nérac, Les montres et horloges de table du musée du Louvre, Tome II, p. 27, and Tardy's Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français , p. 188.
For a rose-shaped watch of similar design made by Benjamin Hill circa 1650 see The Camerer Cuss Book of Antique Watches, pp. 70 & 71.
The Tudor Rose is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England and takes its name and origins from the Tudor dynasty. The House of Tudor was a prominent European Royal House, ruling the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship and Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimized branch of the English Royal House of Lancaster. The Tudor family rose to power in the wake of the Wars of the Roses, which left the House of Lancaster, to which the Tudors were aligned, extirpated.