In Pictures: Celebrating The Clockmakers' Museum's New Home

By Zoe Craig Last edited 30 months ago
In Pictures: Celebrating The Clockmakers' Museum's New Home

Horologists rejoice: we've got more details about the fate of London's Clockmakers' Museum collection.

After being closed since 2014, the Clockmakers' Museum collection, the oldest clock and watch collection in the world, will have a new home at the Science Museum from October.

The unique collection includes 600 watches and 30 clocks. Established in 1814, the majority of the Clockmakers' Collection dates from between 1600 and 1850. Among the historical trove are 15 marine timekeepers, including the celebrated 1770 H5 made by John Harrison. (You think Apple were onto a new thing with the iPhone 6? It took Harrison five versions and an intervention by the King to finally secure the Longitude reward.)

The Clockmakers' Collection will now be housed at the Science Museum's Measuring Time gallery. Regular visitors will be familiar with its beautiful handcrafted clocks, watches and sundials as well as their early electrical clocks.

The Science Museum has the third oldest clock in the world, dating from 1392 (on loan from Wells Cathedral) on display, as well as a 1500-year-old Byzantine sundial-calendar, the second oldest surviving geared mechanism.

We can't help wondering if this amalgamation might result in the loss of some of the detail about the clockmakers themselves. After all, the Clockmakers' collection at the Guildhall was assembled by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, and traced their stories. Hopefully the Science Museum will have space to dedicate to the histories of remarkable men like David Ramsay, Edward East, George Graham, John Harrison et al.

The Clockmakers' Museum collection will be on display at the Science Museum from 23 October. Visit sciencemuseum.org.uk/clocks to find out more.

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5th Marine Timekeeper by John Harrison (1696 – 1776). This was the last in the series of timekeepers made by Harrison in his attempt to win the famous £20,000 Longitude Prize. It was made in London and tested personally by King George III.
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The movement of the previous item.
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Wooden movement from a longcase clock by John Harrison (1696-1776). This was made in 1713 and is the earliest known clock by this maker.
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Smiths De Luxe wristwatch, that's been to the ends of the earth and back, by Smiths English Clocks Ltd. This watch was on Sir Edmund Hillary's wrist when he reached the summit of Everest in 1953.
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A tiny star-shaped watch, intricately engraved with scenes from the Bible. It was made c1630 by David Ramsay, appointed by King Charles I as the first Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1631. Ramsay was a Scot, who came south in the entourage of King James I.
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An engraved skull containing a watch, which was long believed to have been given to Mary Seaton by Mary Queen of Scots at the time of her execution. It was in fact made in the 18th century, an early example of the Romantic Revival.
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One of 50 wristwatches made by Dr George Daniels (1926-2011), to celebrate the Millennium. George Daniels was born in London into abject poverty but rose to become the greatest watchmaker of his day. He served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1980.
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An extremely small silver pocket watch by Edward East (c1602-1696 ). East was a goldsmith, watch and clockmaker and probably banker, who worked in Fleet Street, London. He served as Master of the Clockmakers’ Company in 1645 and again in 1653. In 1660 he was appointed Chief Clockmaker to the King.
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Longcase clock by Daniel Quare (c1647-1724) of London, which goes for a year at one winding. Made for a visit of King William III to Lord Coningsby, at Hampton, Court, near Leominster.
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The beautifully pierced case and decorated movement of a silver watch by Charles Gretton.

Last Updated 13 August 2015