Accompanied by copies of the Kew Register of Watches Received and Dispatched, and an Abstract of the Results.
Research shows that the present watch is part of a small series of tourbillon watches submitted by Smith & Son to the Kew Observatory for testing with the Smith reference No. 1900 (for that year) and the movements were all supplied by Nicole Nielsen. Of these 9 watches entered this is the only one combining tourbillon and minute repeating. The watch was submitted by Nicole Nielsen and was tested for 45-days receiving a Class A Kew Certificate, "Especially Good", with 82.2 marks on the 15th April in 1900.
Towards the end of the Victorian era and for the first 30 years of the 20th Century Nicole, Nielsen & Co. 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 specialized in making super-complicated keyless watches often incorporating specifications such as perpetual calendar, chronograph, split seconds chronograph, repetition, temperature, equation of time and tourbillons. Delicate, expensive and fascinating to observe the tourbillon was Nicole Nielsen's specialty. The Company designed their own tourbillon carriage, instantly recognizable and revered by collectors.
Many of their best watches were made for top retailers such as Charles Frodsham (see lot 365 in this sale) and 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.
We are indebted to The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London for their invaluable assistance with researching this watch.