Time Ticks By

17th March 2016

We all complain about time passing us by and one of the things that features in all our lives are clocks and watches.

For thousands of years devices have been made to follow and record time and the weather. The Clepsydra water-driven clock was one of the first designs. Then came mechanical “Escapements” (this allows a driven wheel to escape), the first recognisable clock is believed to have been produced in Europe in the 14th century. Clockmaking combines engineering and mathematics, some of the finest brains in Europe devoted their lives to finding a reliable method of portable time keeping, the prize: accurate navigation. John Harrison won the race, which led to Britain becoming the major naval power of the 18th century and the building of the British Empire.

Watches originally were not worn on the wrist but carried in the pocket. The pocket watch we usually see is now known as the Hunter, named for the protective cover which prevented the face being damaged when you fell from your horse. The self-winding automatic watch that we all know today  was invented by John Harwood, a British watchmaker in 1923.

Due to the increased popularity in this area of the antiques market, Thomson Roddick Scottish Auctions’ next sale that will include a specialist section for antique clocks and barometers, but also microscopes, telescopes and other such scientific instruments such as sextants, binoculars, scales, gauges and more is to be held in Edinburgh on 31st March.

Already entered is a Negretti and Zambra pocket barometer with a complicated movement. This would have been a wealthy man’s toy, designed to impress his friends.

Watches like Rolex, Patek Phillippe, Omega and Jaeger Le Coultre are all collectible and may well prove to have been a good investment. Even some models of the humble Swatch Watch command four figure prices at auction.