World auction record for a watch by John Arnold. A 1781 large silver consular cased pocket chronometer soars to £557,000 ($722,318). Photo: Sotheby's.Sotheby’s London, auction records for watches made by two of England’s most famous and important watchmakers were set when a silver pocket chronometer by John Arnold sold for £557,000 ($722,318) and a gold pocket chronometer by Thomas Earnshow fetched £305,000 ($395,524).
Made in 1781 and estimated at £130,000-150,000, the large silver consular cased pocket chronometer by John Arnold is remarkable in that it has survived in its completely original state. Arnold introduced the ‘double S’ balance in 1780. The ‘S’ sections of the balance were shaped bi-metallic bars that were designed to overcome the changing elasticity of the balance spring and expansion of the balance’s rim. The watch sold yesterday is the only example of a watch by Arnold which survives without restoration and with its original case, dial, pivoted detent and ‘double S’ balance.
Thomas Earnshaw invented the spring detent escapement and Thomas Wright, watchmaker to King George III, agreed to pay for the patent in his name. Dating from 1784, the gold pair cased pocket chronometer in yesterday’s sale was the only surviving example of a watch made strictly to Wright’s patent details (est. £250,000-300,000).
The sale included some of the finest precision timekeepers of the English horological Golden Age. It was the second part in a series of sales entitled “Celebration of the English Watch”, featuring the most important collection of English watches in private hands.