ARNOLD & DENT, 84 Strand, London. No 1064


Small 2-day box chronometer by Pennington, circa 1837, fully restored.

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Well figured 3-piece plain mahogany box with replaced enamel plaque in the middle section bearing the makers number 1690, the brass furniture retaining most of the original lacquer, the bezel of early form with domed, convex glass, not the common later replacement bezel (a Royal Navy adaptation) with exaggerated sight ring for holding a flat glass. Smaller than usual and nicely finished fullplate fusee movement (this in not a re-used watch movement). Pennington 'dovetail' form of spring-detent escapement with adjustable mounting. Pennington compensation balance with timing screws and quarter-timing nuts, 10-turn blued-steel helical balance-spring. Silvered dial with state-of-wind indication at 12, lovely original blued-steel hands. Box just under 16 cm.

Edward John Dent, at this time in partner ship with John Roger Arnold, quickly became one of London's greatest and best known chronometer makers, publishing numerous tracts on the subject. See the book on E J Dent by Vaudrey Mercer, as well as the complementary work on the Arnold and Dent firms by Hans Staeger. 

Robert Pennington, together with his son Robert and other members of the family, were one of the leading chronometer makers of the first half of the 19th century. Having received little of the credit they are rightly due, the father seems to have specialised in chronometer making after working for Thomas Mudge junior in the manufacture of Mudge-copy chronometers. Such was his skill that he and his son soon became suppliers to some of the best known retailers of his day: Barraud, Barwise and Arnold & Dent, amongst many others.

Movement, dial and bowl, with its sprung hammer-type shutter (typical of the Arnold & Dent firm at this date), in very good original condition, the numbered bowl retaining much of its original lacquer and the dial looking to have the original silvering. The escapement similarly in lovely original condition: balance, escape wheel and detent. The box is a Dent box (note position of gimbal lock and roundel) of exactly the right size, style and date that has been found for rehousing the bowl. It was previously in a mantel case. NB: Many merchant navy captains are known to have taken their favourite chronometer with them into retirement, many of which were converted for domestic use.

The restoration of new box, its fittings and a correct hard enamel replacement plaque has been done to the highest standard and I am not exaggerating when I say it is now all as good as original, only the non-ratchet key and box key being worthy of future improvement. Otherwise a fine and rather pretty Dent/Pennington chronometer that is priced accordingly. Serviced and guaranteed, plus the old purpose made mantel case accompanies the chronometer, if wanted.