Joseph WHITE & Son 'Makers to the Admiralty' Coventry & London. No 38710


£ 12,450.00

Fine and rare example of North's Patent six-minute 'flying' tourbillion.

More details

Large and heavy silver openface 'crystal' case with gold joint, lips and olivette, hallmarked London 1909, casemaker W.B (William Bullock, Coventry). Keyless going-barrel half-plate movement jewelled to the centre, with cap jewels on balance (diamond), lever and escape, the top plate also engraved 'D NORRIS Unico Agente para Brazil' as is typical of these tourbillion watches. Single-roller detached ever escapement, compensation balance, free-sprung balance-spring with overcoil. Perfect signed enamel dial, original blued-steel hands. 59 mm diameter.

Joseph White (1835 - 1906) & Son, watch and Chronometer makers to the Admiralty, Earlsdon, Coventry, one of the foremost watch manufacturers in Coventry at the period. White and Norris, his agent in Brazil, specialised in these six-minute tourbillion watches of which around twenty are known to have survived. For more information about Joseph White, see the article on him and his firm by Jeromy Hassell in the December 2003 edition of Antiquarian Horology.

Robert Benson North (then owner of the Nicole Nielsen firm), 14 Soho Square, London, Patent No 6737, March 1903: Improvements in Revolving Escapements for Watches and other Portable Timekeepers.

Often mistakenly identified as a karrusel, this is in fact a true tourbillion, as first made by A-L Breguet (and as probably first conceived by John Arnold), in which the train is used to drive the carriage only. The escapement is mounted in the carriage and turns only because it is carried around a 'fixed wheel' (not part of the train) planted under the carriage. A karrusel does not have a fixed wheel and both the carriage and escapement are separately driven. The speed of rotation can be varied in both systems and this should have nothing to do with their being named one or the other - auction houses please note.

NB: This is the first tourbillion design (not Helwig) to operate without an upper supporting pivot, a so-called 'flying tourbillion,' and North obviously saw the advantages of such a thinner movement design in Bonniksen's karrusel patent of 1892, adapting it to his 'fixed wheel' tourbillion patent of 1903. 

A rare chance to own an affordable English tourbillion in very good original condition, showing very few signs of age or wear, and certainly among the best condition of the few examples known. Cleaned and guaranteed.