Jno GREY, Leadenhall St, London. No 2370


Good looking example of a London made(?) rack lever watch, circa 1810.

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Nicely made gilt metal case with sprung bezel, released by a push in the pendant, casemaker IR. Fullplate fusee movement with unusually pierced balance cock with large diamond endstone and balance-brake acting on the escape. Rack lever (dead beat) escapement of unique form, with gold escape and plain steel pallets that have not been jewelled, the steel rack not running in slides and the counterpoise of a shape I have not seen before. Steel balance, spiral balance-spring. Lovely enamel dial with large seconds intersected by the hour chapter ring, a form favoured by John Grant and just a few others at this period. Gold serpentine hands. 53 mm diameter.

John Grey [Gray], 68 Leadenhall Street, London, free of the Clockmakers' Company, 1769-1817, watchmaker.

I have seen very few rack lever watches that were not of Liverpool manufacture, and none that look like this - a most interesting example.

NB: Most English watches of the 18th and early 19th century showing seconds are fitted with a balance-brake, or hacking facility as it is called in America. This is not some form of simple chronograph, as often claimed, nor a sign of being a doctor's watch, as can be so often read on eBay. Instead, it allows the watch to be started precisely, to the second, against a master time source such as a longcase clock. It was then easy to check how well the watch had performed during the day, and allow minor adjustments of the regulator to be made - as much a pleasure now as it always was, I am happy to confirm.

Unusual in design, very good looking, and in lovely condition, the case re-gilded and a suitable set of contemporary hands recently fitted replacing those that were obviously wrong. Cleaned guaranteed.