MARGETTS Eight Days Timekeeper. No 149


A fine and rare example of these idiosyncratic box chronometers, circa 1800.

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Brass bowl with bayonet fitted bezel, the bottom now with engraved shutter for winding from the rear, the side-winding having been removed. Fullplate fusee movement with steel baluster shaped pillars, the balance and escapement between the plates. Earnshaw-type spring-detent escapement, the foot detent with gold passing-spring of Margetts unusual design, the detent and both rollers fitted with jewels, the brass escape with 20 teeth. Margetts Z-type compensation balance with typically small weights, the 4-turn balance-spring with terminal curves. Beautiful signed enamel dial, with outside minute track, in perfect condition, with original blued-steel hands of distinctive Margetts style. Bowl 14 cm wide by 9 cm high, including domed glass.

George Margetts, a contemporary of both John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw, a most interesting and capable watch, clock and chronometer maker, as well as mathematician who produced important Longitude and Horary Tables. Many of his machines, as well as his Tables, were used by Captains working for the East India Company. For further information I recommend the chapter on Margetts in the new National Maritime Museum catalogue Marine Chronometers at Greenwich by Jonathan Betts. 

From surviving examples, it would seem that Margetts did not fit gimbals to his chronometers, presumably placing them on cushions within a lockable box that provided access for the side-winding. At some point, almost certainly after Margetts death in 1804, James Hatton, his former partner and successor, appears to have converted any that were sent back to him into rear-wound gimballed machines. This would explain the rather disparate boxes that survive. NB: A similar example, in bowl only and converted from side- to rear-winding, No 80, can be seen at the British Museum.

Lacking box and tail of seconds hand now lacking. Otherwise in fine original condition, especially the escapement, the winding and bowl in the usual 'Hatton modified' condition. Not serviced by me but will tick when wound - full and proper servicing can be provided if required.