NICOLE NIELSEN for Charles FRODSHAM 'AD Fmsz' London. No 08631


Rare split-seconds chronograph by the inventors of the modern chronograph.

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Heavy and well detailed gold crystal (flat glass) case with 5-knuckle joint and swivel bow hallmarked London 1897, sponsor's mark HMF (Harrison Mill Frodsham). Finely finished three-quarter plate movement jewelled to the centre with cap jewels on balance, lever and escape, the chronograph work "for timing the first and second in a race" mostly mounted on the top plate. Double-roller detached lever escapement with triangular impulse jewel. Compensation balance, balance-spring with double overcoil. WILLIS enamel "tinted" dial (colour and quality), fully signed for Frodsham with 60-minute counter at 12, in perfect condition. Original blued-steel hands with gold split-seconds hand bearing the usual NN 'star.' 53 mm diameter and weighing over just over 150 grams, gross

Charles Frodsham, 115 New Bond Street, late 84 Strand 'By Appointment to the Queen,' one of London's leading and most famous watch and clockmakers  - see the book on the various Frodsham firms by Vaudrey Mercer, copies of which are usually available on my website.

Adolphe Nicole, Patent No 10,348 of October 1844, includes the first commercially successful keyless work for both going-barrel and fusee watches, as well as the ‘heart shaped cam’ controller for true, start/stop/return to zero, chronographs. Joined by Danish born watchmaker Emil Nielsen, becoming Nicole Nielsen & Company by 1876, the firm were the foremost London watchmakers of the second half of the 19th century, supplying many of the finest chronographs, repeaters and tourbillion watches to retailers such as Frodsham, Dent, Smith & Son, etc. See my site Glossary for more information about this most important and still vastly underrated London firm. See also my reprint of High-Class English Watches, Nicole Nielsen's trade catalogue of circa 1900 which shows this watch, type 36, which cost £57 when bought new from them - Frodsham's charged more.

NB: This is a true 'split-second' chronograph, with two separate and concentric hands, both of which can be individually started, stopped and returned to zero. Most watches sold around the world and described as split-second, are not - on eBay and many other sites. Further, please do not believe what you read on Wikepedia about Moinet and the invention of true chronographs, which is not true.

Please also note that the movement bears the engraving 'PARTLY SWISS.' This can occasionally be found engraved on Nicole Nielsen movements, the earliest example in my records being in a case hallmarked 1872. The latest use I have found is 1920. Given the output of similar chronographs by NN, only a few are marked this way and I have found no difference in their quality or finish to their standard production. It raises the question just what part of these late 19th century complicated watches are Swiss, and does it matter when they are as beautifully finished as this watch undoubtably is...

Rear cover with RGH monogram, the dome with accompanying dedication to Ralph George Heathcote who was born in Manchester in 1859. Working as a general medical practitioner and surgeon, he was a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries of London and Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. The watch in lovely original condition showing few of the expected signs of wear. Serviced and guaranteed.