NICOLE NIELSEN & Co for DENT, London. No 57893


Fine and rare boxed RGS-pattern explorer's watch in lovely condition.

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Heavy silver screw-back-and-bezel case with additional screw cover over the crown which also allows access to a pin for hand setting, a unique NN feature in these cases. Hallmarked London 1911, sponsor's marks for DENT and RN (Robert North). Keyless fusee half plate movement, the raised barrel engraved with E J Dent's triangle trademark and 'Watchmaker to the King.' Double-roller detached lever escapement, balance-spring with overcoil. Signed enamel dial in perfect condition, with state-of-wind indication at 12, blued-steel hands. 57 mm diameter. Together with three-piece mahogany box, the lid modified to contain rating/going notes, the only time I have seen this.

The firm of E J Dent, then at 61 Strand and 4 Royal Exchange, one of the leading London watch, chronometer and clock makers of the period - see the book on Edward John Dent and the various Dent firms by Vaudrey Mercer.

The Royal Geographical Society purchased around forty pocket watches in 'waterproof' cases between 1878 and 1929. Many but not all of these were supplied by the firm of Usher & Cole to Lund & Blockley for selling to the RGS, but other manufacturers also made them, perhaps the most notable being Nicole Nielsen & Co. This 20-size explorers watch is shown in NN's High Class English watches catalogue, type 17, costing £25 at the time. Copies of my reprint of this rare catalogue are available on my website. NB: Many travellers will have purchased their own watches if their expeditions were not sponsored by the RGS, as well as being sold to anyone who wanted to use a watch in particularly wet or damp conditions.

The case back and bezel lacking its leather washers, so not now waterproof, and a most unusual seconds hand that was obviously purpose made at some point. Otherwise in fine original but not mint condition showing just a few signs of use, but less than most such working watches I have handled. Serviced and guaranteed.