Lot 178: (*) Dent "Watchmaker to her Late Majesty", 33 Cockspur Street, London, Movement No. 32276, Case No. 32276, Nicole Nielsen's no. 11494, 65 mm, 273 g, circa 1902
November 16, 2013
Mannheim, GermanyLive Auction
Description: An important unique and complex precision pocket chronometer with minute tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar and moon phase. This watch symbolizes the quintessence of English watchmaking. Complicated timekeepers of this level almost never come on the market - a piece such as this embodies the ultimate highlight of any top-quality collection. Case: 18k gold, polished, tiered, gold dome, case maker's punch mark "RN" (Robert Benson North, proprietor of North & Sons 1917-1933, successors to Nicole, Nielsen & Company), turnable pendant, slide for repeating mechanism. Dial: enamel, reverse side signed by "Willis", radial Roman hours, auxiliary seconds, 30h power reserve indication, subsidiary dials for indications of the day,the month and the date under consideration of the leap year, moon age indicator, cobalt blue enamelled moon phase disc with inlaid golden moon and stars, blued spade hands. Movm.: 3/4 plate movement, frosted, gilt, signed, numbered, screwed chatons, raised barrel engraved with honour cyphers: "To Him the Late Emperor of Russia" (Alexander III 1845-1894) und "To Her Late Majesty" (Queen Victoria 1819-1901), 2 hammers/2 gongs, chain/fusee, finely polished steel tourbillon cage of Nielsen type 2 with a counterpoised pink gold weight and polished screws, spring detent escapement, gold screw compensation balance, freesprung blued balance spring. Vaudrey Mercer, biographer of Edward John Dent, states that the Nicole Nielsen company fitted the majority of their tourbillon watches with English lever escapements and that therefore the watches that had a detent escapement were regarded as ofsuperior standard. Meis emphasizes how rare these tourbillons were, even claiming that only approximately 650 top quality vintage tourbillons were ever produced worldwide. Around 100 of those were created in England. Meis also mentions that, bar one exception, none but the English makers fitted their tourbillon watches with powerful complications. New discoveries record a slightly higher overall number, but nevertheless tourbillon watches are rare and highly coveted. At the time when this watch was created, the Dents were working in two different family businesses that had been established after the death of Edward John Dent. The watch was produced by the company of M F Dent (Marianna Frederica), which was the name of Richard Edward Dent's widow. The second business traded as E Dent (Elizabeth) & Co. In 1920 both businesses came together again as one company that took the nameDent. John Edward Dent John Edward Dent was born in 1790 and started his career as a candle-maker before he turned to watch- and clockmaking. Dent is considered one of the leading watch- and clockmakers of his time who produced pocket watches, large clocks, chronometers and regulators. He worked for the Vulliamys and the Barrauds from 1815 until 1829, and became the partner of John Roger Arnold in 1830. The partnership ended in 1840 and Dent opened his own workshop in London. John Edward Dent's clocks, chronometers and pocket watches were much sought after even then and he also built the famous clock in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Cond.: Case: very good. Dial: very good, slightly chipped. Movm.: very good, capable of running.