Display Watch

EW57 front
watch index 23
country British  
piece name (title): Clockwatch by William Webster
price $2800
set key
plate full
plate finish gilt
date 1720
long comment EW57 pear case chime fusee
case style pear
case material unknown
escapement verge
serial number
maker References to three generations of Websters, all named William:

William Webster I, free 1710, died 1735, (served as journeyman to Thomas Tompion). Working from Exchange Alley, London from 1713.

William Webster II, son of the above, apprenticed to him 1727, free 1734, master from 1755, working 1734 until 1770 from Exchange Alley.

William Webster III, son of William II, working 1756-1768, apprenticed to his father 1756, free 1763, also in Exchange Alley.

In view of the probable date, the most likely maker is William I, although it could be an early example of the work of William II.

The business founded by William Webster in 1711 continued through many generations of the family until 1929, representing 218 years of continuous ownership by one family.
movement Full plate, key wound, fusee with chain, the circular balance cock table pierced and engraved with inhabited foliate scrolls, strapwork and a classical female mask at the base, with "streamers" on either side. The pierced and engraved balance cock foot with almost straight top edge, the slide plate with silver disc regulator engraved with Arabic numerals. The top plate signed for "William Webster in Exchange Alley" and serial number "70?", (the last digit defaced). The plain steel, (number of spokes unclear, but probably only two), balance wheel with flat blue steel hairspring. The pillars of baluster vase form, some cut back to clear train components. The setup for the time train mainspring by a tangent screw mounted between the plates under the barrel.

The winding square for the time train planted inside the circumference of the balance cock table; this counter-intuitive design is due to the extra space occupied by the strike train and is only possible if the balance wheel has sufficiently low amplitude, as here with a verge escapement.

The mainspring standing barrel for the striking train decorated with an engraved border of acanthus leaves. The striking speed of the repeater train adjustable via an eccentric plug whose slotted head is mounted in the top plate on the edge of the balance cock foot next to the regulator disc. The deep brass edge with wheat ear engraved border housing the repeating work.
escapement
case The inner is silver, although with the bell in place there can be no confirmation from hallmarks. The outer is covered in tortoiseshell, on what appears to be a silver base.

The silver inner case pierced and engraved with foliate scroll work, a grotesque mask at 6, the pendant and stirrup bow in plated metal. Two holes in the bowl accommodate the two winding squares.

The silver outer case, covered with tortoiseshell, pierced with circular openings around the sides.
case marks
dial and hands The later white enamelled convex dial with Roman hour chapter, minute ring to the outside, with Arabic minute numerals to the quarters only. It is not uncommon to find later enamel dials replacing original champlevé dials on early watches, but this example appears to date from the end of the 18th century or even the beginning of the 19th.

The later steel moon hands in "LePine", (more commonly known as "Breguet") style. The original hands at this early date would have been "beetle and poker" style.
notes An essentially original early 18th century clockwatch with only the dial and hands later replacements. The maker was known for this type of watch, which would have been a very expensive luxury item when new.

If the watch does indeed have a repeating function in addition to the clockwatch striking, this is much less common, and will have a positive effect on its value. Unfortunately this could only be established by removing the dial to examine the components underneath.

Complications: Clockwatch. A strike mechanism powered by a separate mainspring striking at least the hours, and controlled by a rack. In some examples the quarters are also struck, but in this instance with apparently only a single hammer striking on a polished steel bell in the inner case, the hours only.

There is a lever on the edge of the movement at VIII, probably "strike/silent", and a further cut out in the bezel at IV which may have accommodated another lever, now missing or broken, which may possibly have actuated a repeating function.

No case hallmarks, but on stylistic grounds, probably 1710-1730.
valuation An apparently similar clockwatch by Samuel Macham dated 1705 was sold at auction in 2012 for £6875 inc. premium. The inner case was 22K gold, the outer leather, and the dial and hands were original. I would deduct £2000 for the gold case, £1000 for the unoriginal dial and hands, and £1500 for poorer condition on this watch, but add £200 for the assumed tortoiseshell outer. It is assumed that there is no repeater function.
copyright © 2017 Graham Morse and Martin Rosen
EW57 front
EW57
EW57 inside back of cae
EW57 back of watch and case
EW57 dial and hand
EW57 fob
EW57 key wind hole
EW57 open case
EW57 side of inside case
EW57 two cases
EW57 two cases, back of works
EW57 winding arbor
EW57 works side
EW57 balance wheel
EW57 side works
EW57 fusee
EW57 escapement
EW57 barrel with decoration