John MITCHELL, London. No 105


£ 345.00

Fine English quarter-repeating movement with early enamel dial, circa 1735.

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Silver capped fullpate movement with nicely engraved balance and slide plate, both cap and movement named and numbered, the 'English-style' plunge repeat work under the dial. Verge (recoil) escapement. Brass balance, spiral balance-spring. Early one-piece white enamel dial. 39.5 mm diameter, 19.5 mm deep, not including centre arbor.

John Mitchell, watchmaker, free of the Clockmakers' Company in 1713, working from St James's Street, London.

The quarter-repeating work in this watch is an interesting and relatively early variation of the type which Francis Wadsworth designated as the "English type" in his important article in the December 1965 and March and June 1966 issues of Antiquarian Horology. Along with the Stogdon-type, as used by George Graham and many who were associated with his workshop, they are the two standard styles of repeat work found in most English watches in the 18th century. Both are good systems if well made, as is this example, with its 'all-or-nothing' action and a 'surprise-piece' fitted to the quarter snail. 

NB: Although small or two-piece enamel dials were occasionally used in the 17th century, the introduction of larger one-piece dials appears to coincide with the beginnings of George Graham's dead-beat escapement in watches, commonly called the cylinder escapement. This happened in 1725/6. Watches earlier than this date have often been recorded as having "original" enamel dials, but all that I have seen have been later replacements. The construction, painting and surface finish are all clues which can help distinguish these very early dials and survivors are rare. Notice also the proportions of the Arabic 5-minute numerals and the Roman hour chapters, which are close in size at this early period. The hour chapters become more prominent over time and dials without any 5-minute marks at all start to be seen in 1770’s London work.

Lacking the single screw that holds the brass-edge in place, both hands and rather dirty, the dial with hair cracks and scratches, but it is the original and has not been acrylic restored or faked up. Not cleaned by me and will tick if pressure is applied to the train, but the repeating train appears to be seized. Sold as not working, but looking to be complete and well capable of restoration.