Jeremiah JOHNSON, Royal Exchange, London


£ 4,995.00

Fine single handed verge with early conversion to balance-spring, circa 1685.

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Silver pair case, the inner with split bezel and loose ring pendant, neither case carrying any marks. Lovely pre-1680 fullplate fusee movement with tulip-type pillars and offset 'centre' wheel with indirect drive to the single hand, now with later balance cock and slide/regulation plate from the time of its conversion, all neatly done. Original silver champleve dial with gilt centre and single blued-steel hand. 52.5 mm diameter.

Jeremiah Johnson, Royal Exchange, watch and clock maker. Born 1646, apprenticed (turned over) to Ahasuerus Fromanteel, becoming free of the Clockmakers' Company in 1668. He died in 1709.

NB: With the development by Thomas Tompion of the balance-spring (pendulum spring) to verge watches between 1675 and 1680, the buying public slowly came to understand the advantages and many pre-balance spring watches were later converted. Indeed, most of the earliest watches produced by Tompion and a few others at this inspirational period were conversions to existing pre-balance spring watches. It took some years for the rough movement makers to create and supply the new style of movement, and much had to be first learnt about how best to apply a form of regulation that could be easily understood and accomplished by the customer, and for the movement makers to supply this for the finishers. This watch is from that early period and is one of a number of Johnson watches that are recorded as being so converted. For a similar example (case, dial and conversion) see the Johnson paircase in the Gerd Ahrens collection, which he acquired at an Antiquorum auction in 1991.

The signature partially covered, as usual, by the much lager balance cock needed with a balance-spring conversion. Otherwise in pretty good original condition and a rare example from the early days of perhaps the single most important improvement ever made in the history of watchmaking. Serviced and guaranteed.