Monday, 28 March 2016

Coach Watch Series - 3: Timothy Williamson

In the late eighteenth century some notable export businesses were built in London, clocks and watches often being the stock-in-trade.  There was considerable demand from the Ottoman Empire, China and India for highly decorative pieces of a quality standard not met by local craftsmen.  Perhaps the best known English entrepreneur was James Cox, to whom I referred in my post, ‘Soho Sophistication.’  Timothy Williamson, like Cox, was not a horologist himself, his own craft skills being those of the goldsmith.

Britten’s dates/locations are: 1768-88; 196 Fleet Street (1769-75); 59 Fleet Street (1777-83); 90 Great Russell Street (1785-88). 

Roger Smith, writing in Antiquarian Horology, says:  ‘The goldsmith Timothy Williamson may have organised the making of his own distinctive cases, but their movements could well have been supplied by the well-known clockmaker, William Hughes, with whom Williamson has close links.’ 

Working dates for Hughes according to Britten’s were 1766-94.  He worked at 119 High Holborn, an address which became famous as being that of Thomas Earnshaw, who took over Hughes’s business.  Earnshaw, though already time-served when he arrived in London, looked upon Hughes as his mentor. 

This Coach Watch ‘by’ Williamson was made for China.  Diameter is 85mm and the movement number is 3416, probably 1785-90.  It is a twin train verge with Grand Sonnerie strike, moon-age and centre seconds complication.  The case is gilt with paste stone decoration: 

Courtesy Ashland Investments

A similar style watch by Williamson, number 2780, was offered, but not sold by Antiquorum at a Geneva sale in October 2000, with estimate of $14,000 - $17,000.  That one’s diameter was no less than 140mm.

Hughes’s own watches tended to be plainer, though of high quality, and he signed the dial:

Courtesy of

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Coach Watch Series - 2: John Grantham

John Grantham’s life and work is not well documented. The Baillie entry is simply: London. Mid 18c. g. rep. agate watch Stern coll.  Loomes records just the date 1762.  As for premises, Swallow Street, St. James, Piccadilly is recorded for 1779. 

I have found 6 other extant Grantham verges – all but one are flamboyant in appearance. 

This example was made in London around 1760 for export to China.  Movement number is 6828.  Diameter is 76mm.  It was sold in 2012 by Jones & Horan for $7,000.  It is also to be seen on the website of Stephen Bogoff.
Courtesy of Stephen Bogoff
In the period the cases of watches destined for China were very highly
decorated, with the use of multiple materials to complement the multi-functionality of the movement. This is well illustrated by another Grantham watch to be seen on Sotheby’s website.
This is not a Coach Watch, being just 43mm in diameter. However, it has many of the features associated with more opulent, larger format examples. Sotheby’s description should have you clicking the link in order to see such indulgence: 


Gilt full plate verge movement signed John Grantham London, pierced and engraved balance cock • white enamel dial, Roman numerals • pierced and engraved inner case, outer set with repouss√© scrolls, moss agate plates on the case back and bezel, ruby and diamond-set motifs on the edges, diamond-set push button piece to the band • signed on the movement