NICOLE & CAPT, for DENT, 33 Cockspur St, London. No 27074


£ 3,450.00

Rare early form of split-seconds chronograph with provenance, in lovely original condition.

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Heavy gold double back 'crystal' (flat glass) case hallmarked London 1872, sponsor's mark AN (Adolph Nicole). Typical three-quarter-plate keyless movement, jewelled to the 3rd with cap jewels on balance, lever and escape, with the addition of split-seconds work partially under the dial and on the top plate. Single-roller detached lever escapement. Compensation balance, balance-spring with overcoil. Lovely signed enamel dial of eccentric form, as needed with this caliper of movement, and unusually in perfect condition, blued-steel hands. 50 mm diameter.

The famous firm of E J Dent 'Watchmaker to the Queen' London, one of the leading watch, chronometer and clock makers of the period - see the book Edward John Dent... by Vaudrey Mercer.

Nicole & Capt, later becoming Nicole Nielsen & Co, were the leading manufactures of top class English keyless and complicated watches during the second half of the 19th century, suppliers to Messrs Dent, Frodsham, S Smith & Son, and many other retailers. 

NB: Nicole & Capt are the inventors of the modern chronograph and this is a rare early split-seconds variant. In use: one press on the button will stop one of the two centre-seconds hands, a second press will stop the second hand. Pressing again allows the second hand to resume running and the first hand to catch up and they continue as one. The fully developed split-seconds chronograph also has return-to-zero function using a heart-shaped cam - a feature which soon followed and which was patented by Nicole in 1844, along with his highly successful pin-set keyless work as seen in this watch. This early version allows for the timing of two participants in any race, as well as a quick and easy to use single-timer for events of 60 seconds or less. The slide in the band at 2 locks the button, preventing the chronograph to be operated inadvertently, if so wished.

Case back with JLT monogram in black enamel and engraved in full on the dome J L Thorndike. The influential American attorney J. L. Thorndike, in partnership with Messrs Moorfield and Storey, made many appearances in the American Supreme court in the 1880's and 1890's, and wrote for the Harvard Law Review between 1904-1919.

Bow showing some slight wear and small local repairs to the black enamel monogram. Otherwise a fine example of a rare and early form of chronograph, in mostly lovely untouched condition, and one likely to have graced many American courtrooms in its time, if not also horse racing tracks. Serviced and guaranteed.