Gold and enamel cased verge watch with quarter-repeat

On display


  • Handbook text

    Swiss-born Ferdinand Berthoud was one of the most renowned Parisian clock and watchmakers of the 18th century. In contrast to some of his pioneering pieces, however, this watch is of standard form. The movement is a design commonly made in Paris during this period. It has gilded plates and four tapered pillars. There is a fusee with chain which drives a four-wheel gear train which terminates with a verge escapement controlled by a brass three-arm balance and spiral balance spring. The geared regulator has a silver index disc engraved ‘AVANCE’ and ‘RETARD’ for adjusting the rate of the watch.

    A ‘dumb’ quarter-repeat mechanism taps the last hour and quarter on the case when the pendant is pressed in. To adjust the speed of striking there is a variable-depth plug-bearing for the last pinion in the train. The back plate is engraved with a scale marked 'V' and 'L' for vite and lentement to indicate which way to turn the plug.

    The white enamel dial is supported by a gilt-brass dial-plate signed Ferdinand Berthoud around the edge. The dial itself is typical of French dials of this period with bold minute and hour numerals around an inner single-line circle. It is signed 'Ferdinand Berthoud' above and below the centre. The minute hand is a plain brass replacement but the hour hand appears to be original.

    The three-colour gold case has a bezel and band decorated with a figure-of-eight wreath design in relief. The back has a wreath border enclosing a painted enamel panel in sepia tones depicting Cupid drawing his bow. There is also a pulse-piece at VII-VIII for silent repeat. On the inside, the case is punched with the Paris hallmarks for 1769 in the form of a floral purity mark and a crowned letter F date mark. The mark JAA with a cinquefoil above is that of Jean-Antoine Alazard.

    David Thompson, “Watches in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford”, Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 25 (December 2000), pp.632-633.

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

Further reading

Thompson, David, ‘Watches in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, Antiquarian Horology, 25, (2000), pp. 632-633

Thompson, David, Watches in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2007), no. 26

Reference URL

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