Sotheby’s, London, July 6 2017
Sold for £13,759
Although it can’t perhaps be described as ‘cheap’, this piece serves to demonstrate the fact that interesting and historically important pocket watches can still represent remarkable value for money when compared to their wristwatch brethren – especially in instances such as this where the piece in question was made by one of horology’s biggest names.
After serving his apprenticeship, George Graham became a ‘journeyman’ for clock maker Thomas Tompion in 1695, married one of his nieces and later became Tompion’s business partner. Elected to the Royal Society in 1721 and made Master of the Clockmaker’s Company the following year, his contribution to horology was so significant that he was buried with Tompion in Westminster Abbey.
This particular example of his work dates from around 1737 and is typical of his advanced design because it is one of few watches with centre seconds to have been produced during the first half of the 18th century. What’s more, the watch features a start/stop lever below the bezel of the inner case to facilitate accurate time setting, while the main plate, escapement and balance cock are elaborately engraved. The movement is also – importantly – signed ‘Geo. Graham’, while the relatively utilitarian, solid silver case is the work of London maker John Ward. All in all, a fabulous piece of horological history for the price of a mediocre, modern wrist watch.
Simon de Burton