Abdul Medjid II (1868-1944) was the last Caliph of Islam and the cousin and heir of the last Ottoman Sultan of Turkey, Mehmed VI Vahideddin. The Sultans of Turkey held the title of Caliph of Islam since 1517; the word Caliph means Successor ie. Successor of the Prophet Mohammed. After the Sultan went into exile in 1922 Abdul Medjid II was persuaded to accept the important office of Caliph and the Turkish Grand National Assembly declared him to be That member of the Ottoman Royal House who was in learning and character most worthy.
One of the most remarkable features about this clock is the fact that all the mounts, mouldings and feet are of pure gold. The mounts are of exceptional quality and bear even the closest examination. There are no maker's marks but the work is comparable to leading London goldsmiths such as George Michael Moser, d. 1783. Moser was an exceptional goldsmith, particularly renowned for his work on repoussée pair cased gold watches and boxes.
The architectural term tempietto refers to a colonaded building of circular form surmounted by a dome. The present clock case is directly styled from the architecture promoted by the Rome-trained English architect James Gibbs (d. 1754). In particular the case closely relates to a 1754 centrepiece of the artist/architect Cornelius Johnston's engraving for a Palatial British Musaeum.
The gold mounts and mouldings are shown off to their greatest effect by the deep green and red-flecked colour of the bloodstone. Known as the 'Martyr's Gem bloodstone is a variety of the silica mineral chalcedony quartz with 'nodules' of bright red jasper distributed throughout its mass. Medieval Christians used bloodstone to carve scenes of the crucifixion and martyrs, leading it to be dubbed the 'Martyr's Stone'. The legend of the origin of bloodstone goes that it was first formed when some drops of Christ's blood fell and stained some jasper at the foot of the cross. A beautiful example of carved bloodstone with the seal of the German Emperor Rudolf II can be seen at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The design of the movement has been cleverly mapped out so that plates, pinions, arbors and bells all fit like a glove within the tiny confines of the case. The fine vase-shaped brass movement pillars are worthy of special mention, so too is the unusual cross-beat escapement which is a variant of one originally designed by Chevalier de Bethune in 1727. The bells and hammers are designed in such a way that they can be clinically removed to access the three trains from above. A clever 'hidden treasure' are the pretty chamfered and curved steel tails on the stands for the two nests of bells. This is pure clockmaking at its best as the stands cannot possibly be seen by an onlooker unless the case and movement are partially dismantled. Yet despite this the workshop still crafted the stands as though they were going to be on constant display.
The automaton panels depict Venetian and Thames-side scenes with buildings inspired by Roman architecture. However the most unusual feature is that both of these panels have been exquisitely made to friction-fit into the sides of the case. This means they can be removed independently from the movement and the casing without having to dismantle any connection to the automaton features.