Small gold hall-marked inner case with panel of musical instruments

On display


  • Handbook text

    Alongside a flourishing trade in the export of watches to China, there were those who manufactured watches specifically for the export to the Ottoman Empire. They sold their wares through trading outlets in Constantinople and towards the end of the 18th century and into the 19th century, the name of Prior becomes synonymous with that trade.

    This charming example, of small size, is typical of the 19th-century ‘Turkish’ market watch which commonly had triple cases and in the best circumstances has gold cases enamelled in colours depicting western European subjects but also sometimes with middle eastern decorative elements. Here the scalloped edge to the cases is typical and the subject of the decoration is that of musical instruments with a musical score, the latter being anything but familiar in Islamic culture. The inner case is punched with a London hallmark but the date letter is indistinct. The punched maker's mark SK in a rectangle, probably that of Samuel Keene, also appears in this case.

    The dial has numerals which are commonly found in the so-called ‘Turkish Market’ clocks and watches where makers invented a form of numeral which was in effect a sort of hybrid between the Roman and true Arabic systems. The gold beetle and poker style hands are old-fashioned for 1820, but this seems to have been a common characteristic of these export pieces.

    The movement with verge escapement is equally old fashioned for the period but here again it seems to have been common practice. The production serial number on the back of the movement, 16766, gives an idea of the scale of production involved in watch-making in the early years of the 19th century.

    Eric Bullivant Bequest, 1974 (WA 1974.158)

    In: Thompson, David, Watches in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2007)

Further reading

Thompson, David, Watches in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2007), no. 30

Reference URL

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