A fine example of this most rare of all English repeating watches, circa 1735.
Leather covered and pinned silver pair case, casemakers cameo stamp AR, which is not mentioned in Priestley and who I believe is Abraham Robert, a 'smallworker' who first entered his mark in 1727 - see Grimwade. Finely finished fullplate fusee movement with round baluster pillars and beautifully engraved cock and slide plate, the dumb quarter repeating train mostly under a separate plate, held with with three short pillars, and mounted under the dial - see images of an exactly similar Gray movement. Verge escapement, steel balance, the spiral balance-spring held with a square pin in the stud. Later but purpose made enamel dial, blued-steel beetle & poker hands. 50 mm diameter
Benjamin Gray, later in partnership with Justin Vulliamy, a very fine watchmaker. His partnership with Vulliamy, who almost certainly came to London to learn cylinder escapement making from Graham, was most successful and launched the Vulliamy firm as 'Watchmakers to the King' for over 100 years.
The repeat work in this watch is unusual and is little known. Quite unlike the Tompion/Graham/Stogdon systems, it uses a single hammer powered by two blade-type springs instead of two hammers with a separate mainspring mounted in a barrel. The short travel of the springs means that the pendant can be much shorter (and much neater) than its contemporaries. The mechanism is not covered by Wadsworth in his 1965-66 AH article on the 'History of Repeating Watches.'
Less than ten examples of these unusual repeaters by Gray are known to me, and this is one of just four that survive in their original case: code 'roc' recently sold at auction for nearly £13,000; code 'nin' was sold at auction in 1966 and code 'tui' was recently offered at auction in Germany (with a modern made-up enamelled outer case) for £40,000. This example, code 'ani, was once owned by Evan Roberts and was purchased in 1928 by Hamilton-Lister. It was offered for sale "from the Hamilton-Lister collection" by Malcolm Gardner in his January 1937 catalogue, item 1170.
NB: From at least Evan Roberts time, the black leather covering of the outer case has been in poor condition and I have recently had it re-covered in black Morocco leather and re-pinned with silver pins (each one individually made and placed into the original case piercing) by the best craftsman presently doing such work. I am pleased to acknowledge the integrity and quality of such fine restoration work, and to share it with you - see pics.
A rare chance for anyone interested in repeating work and the best quality work from the first half of the 18th century. Restored, serviced, and guaranteed.
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