Lot No. 541 (91st Auction)
Josiah Emery, Charing Cross, London, Movement No. 908, 55 mm, 169 g, circa 1782

A gentleman's early lever escapement pocket watch of museum quality with steel escape wheel according to Mudge
Case: 18k rose gold, style of Valentine Walker, polished, à goutte, large lateral hinge, signed and numbered movement protection cap. Dial: regulator dial, enamel, eccentric hour chapter ring with radial Roman numerals, auxiliary seconds, signed, outer minute chapter ring with Arabic numerals, blued hart hands. Movm.: full plate movement, keywind, frosted, gilt, signed, chain/fusee with Harrisons maintaining power, round movement pillars, two-arm gilt brass balance with screwed steel ring and patented "double S" balance with compensating nuts screwed onto threaded posts fixed to the free ends of the S-shaped bimetallic strips, freesprung blued helical balance spring, Emery style balance bridge with floral engravings, chatoned diamond endstone on balance and escape wheel.

Josiah Emery (1725-1797)
The eminent watch maker Josiah Emery, Charing Cross, London was born in the Swiss canton of Vaud, he moved to London, where he built accurate clocks with cylinder escapements. In 1781, became honorary member of the Clockmakers' Company. He came to fame as the first watchmaker worldwide after Thomas Mudge to pioneer the construction of watches regulated by a free anchor escapement and was the first to series-produce it. L. Berthoud said:"His work was particularly fine in all essentials, without unnecessary show."

Josiah Emery’s modified lever escapement
On July 22, 1776 Count Brühl, Saxon envoy at the English court, wrote to Thomas Mudge and asked him for a model of the escapement Mudge had used in his "Queen Charlotte watch" - the very first lever pocket watch, which Mudge had completed in 1771 - for Josiah Emery. Mudge refused at first but delivered the model shortly after.
In 1782 Emery created the first lever watch for Count Brühl; he had built it according to the mechanism Mudge had provided him with, which was - unlike the "Queen Charlotte watch" - constructed in a straight line set-up; this meant that balance staff, lever staff and escape wheel staff were positioned in a linear alignment. For an early version of his escapement Emery used Mudge’s arrangement with two sapphire cams on the balance staff, operating on two planes with the corresponding prongs of the anchor fork. Emery later modified this construction and arranged everything on a single plane, with a mobile pulley instead of the sapphire cams on the balance staff.

One might say that Emery’s design was ultimately responsible for the success of Mudge’s lever escapement. Emery used more stones, but the most significant difference is Emery’s use of a "double S" compensation balance inspired by one of Arnold’s concepts.
The significance of Emery’s ideas and his creations is also apparent in the fact that French watchmakers such as Breguet used and adapted his escapement. It seems that even Pouzait’s lever watches are based on Emery’s designs; Emery might have given him the necessary information during a visit in his home country.

Sometime in the summer of 1782 Jean Baptiste Gaspard Bochart de Saron (1730-1794), president of the French parlament, became one of the first of Emery’s customers to buy a pocket watch with lever escapement, which he paid 90 guineas for. According to Jonathan Betts in "Josiah Emery, Part 4, The Surviving Lever Watches" it is quite possible that this was the watch no. 908 we have here (Jonathan Betts in „Josiah Emery, Part 4, The Surviving Lever Watches, Antiquarian Horology, Winter 1996, p. 136).

Quite a number of important personalities at the time owned lever pocket watches created by Josiah Emery - such as the English Prince Regent, the Duke of Sussex (who owned three) and Admiral Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar with the watch in his pocket - it is today kept in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

By his own account Josiah Emery sold about 38 lever pocket watches between 1782 and 1793; only 22 of them still exist today.
Estimate  35,000 - 55,000 €

Price Realised  59,600 €
A lot from a recent auction!

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