What at first may appear to be simply a handsome late 17th century pocket watch is in fact an incredible piece of English horology. Bearing in mind that the balance spring had only just been applied to watches, thereby dramatically improving portable timekeeping, very few watches had yet been made with minute hands, let alone a seconds hand. Here we find not only a seconds hand but also a lever to the bezel which allows you to stop and start the movement – in practise this allowed you to use the watch as a seconds timer. This is quite extraordinary and unprecedented for the period of its production. Engraved around the edge of the dial is the original owner’s name and address, “Richard Dashwood Esq. of Dearham Grange”. Dashwood’s seals are formed as bosses to the case back at the positions of 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and having tried this myself, I can vouch for the fact that these provide the perfect grip for your hand, whilst you’re holding the watch with the bezel open so that you can activate the slide which starts and stops the movement. Racing a horse along a Chase, usually a measured mile, was a popular pastime amongst the gentry in the late 17th and 18th centuries – this watch was not a bad chattel, therefore, for Mr Dashwood to have for timing his horses with the distinct advantage of being able to flash his latest gadgetry amongst his friends.
This watch was sold for £22,500 at Sotheby’s London, ‘The Celebration of the English Watch Part I‘ 15th December 2015. A full description of the watch and an explanation of the unusual 6 hour dial can be found here: http://www.sothebys.com Part III of the collection will be offered at Sotheby’s this coming December.