Sussex Saleroom: 14th, 15th, Thursday 16th May 2019
A Fine & Rare mahogany and brass-bound eight-day chronometer
By Hatton & Harris, London No. 505, circa 1820, the mahogany case possibly original, and certainly first half 19th Century
The movement incorporating earlier elements by George Margetts
The three-tier brass-bound mahogany case with hinged lid and glazed observation panel, flanked to each side by a brass carrying handle, brass bezel and locking lever, the brass bowl with lift-off convex glazed bezel, the 5in. silvered dial with Roman chapters and seconds subsidiary at the VI with 8-day power reserve below the XII, the full plate movement with four steel baluster pillars, chain fusée with maintaining power, bi-metallic compensated balance with blued steel helical spring and diamond endstone, Earnshaw spring detent escapement
21 cm square, (one key).
PROVENANCE: Sotheby's, London, 21 March 1975, lot 124.
Antiquarian Horology, the Journal of the Antiquarian Horological Society, Vol. 9, no 3, June 1975, p. 340, reporting on the sale.
The partnership of James Hatton & Clement Harris, a watchmaker, was formed around 1816. It continued until the former's death in around 1824.
James Hatton (b. 1776) was apprenticed to George Margetts, a celebrated chronometer maker, a contemporary of John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw.
Hatton was the son of the celebrated London watchmaker Thomas Hatton. He was a talented maker, and his innovative designs and fine quality of work can be seen in the pieces he made with Margetts, as well as those finished under his own name. Jonathan Betts discusses in his recent publication 'Marine Chronometers at Greenwich', Oxford, 2017, that it was almost certain that Hatton introduced the double frame construction for his eight-day timekeepers in order to provide adequate space for the large barrel and fusee. The design also incorporated a sub-frame for the rest of the movement and escapement. The double frame went on to be adopted almost universally and the standard form for eight-day English chronometers (as seen on the previous lot 634).
Hatton may also have worked with Pendleton on improvements to the lever escapement. Margetts died late in 1804 and Hatton inherited and continued the business at 4 St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, until entering into the partnership with Harris.
Hatton's inheritance from George Margetts included a number of unfinished movements. These were 'finished up' over the years by Hatton.
Here in No. 505, the evidence pointing to Margetts' provenance includes the scale and shape of the frame, with its very unusual steel baluster pillars. The cutaways were intended by Margetts for his side-winding mechanism and for his rotating endstone, although he had stopped using these well before the end of his life.
The bowl, which is probably again from Margetts' workshop, had to be deepened by Hatton & Harris to allow room for the balance cock, which is now sited on the backplate.
Betts illustrates in 'Marine Chronometers at Greenwich' Hatton & Harris No. 590. The two compare well and are very similar. In the Ilbert Collection, now in the British Museum (1958, 1006.1942), is Margetts No. 80 which retains part of his remontoire mechanism. The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers' Collection, now at the Science Museum, includes Margetts No. 102. The movements are all of the same pattern as the offered lot.