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Lot No. 113
Lot No. 113
Estimate  22,000 - 35,000 €
This is a lot of the last auction!

John Arnold, London, Invt. et Fecit

, Movement No. 43/344, 54 mm, 119 g, circa 1783

A pocket chronometer - "OF THE SECOND QUALITY" - of historical interest with spring detent escapement and original mahogany box

Case: silver, dedication engraving, case maker's punch mark "WW". Dial: enamel. Movm.: full plate movement, Arnold's spring detent escapement, OZ balance, helical gold balance spring, very finely engraved pierced balance cock.

The engraving on the silver case next to the compulsory hallmark and the date stamp of 1783 states that "This chronometer travelled around the world with captain James Cook and was presented to the honourable Mr. Alexander Lean , secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Company , by the company in 1816." Cook’s third and last voyage, however, lasted from 1776 to 1779 and the case of this chronometer was clearly not made until seven years later; taking these facts into consideration in connection with several technical details of the chronometer – such as the spring detent escapement, the OZ balance and the cylindrical gold balance spring, which Arnold only started using around 1779 – it is probable that the case was created at a later date; it is very unlikely that the case would have been engraved with a dedication that was deliberately untruthful. It is certain that the case and the dial were made around 1783. Since we know that Captain Phipps already took an Arnold chronometer with spring detent escapement on his North Pole expedition in 1774, it is likely that the Arnold chronometer no. 43 was taken along for test purposes – in a different, moisture repellent case – during Captain Cook’s last voyage. It is a fact that Commodore William Christopher of the Hudson’s Bay Company was present on the journey and it is assumed that either he or the Hudson’s Bay Company was the original owner of the chronometer. The Hudson’s Bay Company – one of the first public companies ever and one of the largest English trading companies, with the Honourable East India Company as their main competitor – must certainly have been interested in the results of chronometer testing. It is unfortunately not known whether an Arnold chronometer was tested in comparison with the Kendall chronometers no.1 and no. 3 that were used during Cook’s third voyage; the goal of the expedition was the discovery of the Northwest Passage, which was of crucial importance not only to the British Admiralty but also to the Hudson’s Bay Company. It is likely though that Arnold’s chronometer no. 43 was used by Captain Christopher on this journey. Its subsequent owner Alexander Lean was presented with the chronometer for his services to the company; Lean was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Secretary (today’s CEO) from 1792 to 1817. He is known for mapping the Northwest coast of Canada for the British Admiralty and was in close contact with members of the Royal Society – particularly so with Alexander Dalrymple, the Admiralty’s first hydrographer. Alexander Lean retired from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1817 with an annual pension of £400.

Illustrated and described in: "100 Jahre Präzisionsuhren von John Arnold bis Arnold & Frodsham 1763-1862" (100 years of precision clocks, John Arnold to Arnold & Frodsham 1763-1862), by Hans Staeger, Filderstadt 1997, p. 165f.

John Arnold (1736-1799)
After his apprenticeship with his father in Cornwall, John Arnold settled in London in 1760. In 1764 he presented King George III with a half quarter repeating cylinder watch mounted in a ring. By the time he was 28, Arnold's watches, be they verge or cylinder, displayed interesting original components such as straight-line compensation curbs and minute repeating by increments of 10 minutes (instead of the more common 15 minutes). Around 1768 Arnold began his research into marine chronometers. He established himself at 2 Adam Street, Adelphi Buildings, Strand, in 1771 and carried out most of his research into marine chronometers here over the next eleven years. By 1774 Arnold had constructed a marine chronometer with pivoted detents; he invented terminal curves for the cylindrical balance spring in 1776 and included this construction in the patent for a bimetallic compensated balance he took out in 1782. He subsequently devised numerous different balances such as the Double T, Double S, Z, O-Z and U. Arnold, who was admitted to the Clockmakers' Company in 1783, was the first to employ the term chronometer in the modern sense and to successfully find a way to simplify Harrison's timekeeper design. In 1787 he took his son, John Roger Arnold, into partnership and changed the business name to "Arnold & Son", which it retained until his death.
Case: very good
Dial: very good, slightly scratched, slightly chipped
Movm.: very good, capable of running, cleaning recommended

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