Exceptionally Rare 17th Century Walnut Longcase Clock Brounker Watts of London
A fine and exceptionally rare late 17th century walnut 8 day longcase clock by Brounker Watts of London - b. This comprehensive description holds many key points regarding this unique and exquisite clock so please take time in reading the details. This clock is originally of square dial form and dates to between 1690 and 1695 just as Watts was freed from the tutelage of his master Joseph Knibb whom he served from the age of 14 years in 1684. Those with the knowledge will be aware that longcases of the 1690's were of square dial form with a convex throat and would typically stand on bun feet as this one once did, the signs of which are still visible inside the base of the trunk. As fashions changed around 1715 longcase clocks started to adopt the arch to their dials, this clock was no exception. The clock was converted to arch between 1715 and 1717, we know this as Watts died in 1717 making this one of only a possible handful ever likely to have been constructed and most likely the only one now in existence as no others are recorded. The conversion was unquestionably carried out by Watts along with his original engraver and cabinetmaker. You can see Watts' signature silvered wedge day disc to arch engraved with Deity figures and symbols emblematic of their corresponding planets which is perfectly matched to his bracket clock of the same period (please see an example of this in the last image), the main engraving to the arch is perfectly matched to the original square dial and the additional construction to the arch of the hood is totally uniform to that of the existing construction by the original cabinet maker. The figured walnut case of small proportions measures just ten inches wide at the trunk perfectly matching that of the dial, complete with long door, convex throat, original waved and bubbled viewing glasses to each sides. Construction of the case is totally original up to the top of the original square dial section, this as previously mentioned was then adapted upwards between 1715 and 1717 to allow for the arch. The case has a wonderful colour benefitting from a recent polish along with a very pretty new green silk to the fretting. 8-day movement with five knopped and finned pillars, inside count wheel with anchor escapement striking the hours upon a single bell with a separate day/date mechanism. The movement certainly shows some traits of his master Joseph Knibb. Brass ten inch dial with silvered chapter ring signed Brounker Watts London, silvered seconds subsidiary dial with a lower date calendar with a feature never seen previously, a slit above the aperture to enable the change of date by means of engaging a pointer on the tooth of the date ring without the necessity of removing the hood should the clock ever lose power, simple yet ingenious. The additional arch with silvered wedge day disc and a centre which is typically engraved with his signature flowers to the winding holes, the quarters perfectly engraved flowing through to the arch which has some of the finest engraving you will ever see. Original Brass cased weights, pendulum and keys.
The clock is fully working and running as one would expect, keeping excellent time, both the day and date feature change perfectly. Recorded in Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the world by GH Baillie on page 336. Brounker Watts served his seven-year apprenticeship under the tutelage of Joseph Knibb from January 1684 to February 1691. He was made Free of the Clockmakers Company in 1693 and continued his work in Fleet Street in 1694, marrying Ursula Walford in 1695. In 1711 he avoided Stewardship of the Company because he was'out of town' and was not recorded thereafter, presumed dead, until recent further records show that he actually died in 1717 and was buried in St.
Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street, London. A gold verge pocket watch by Brounker Watts was Presented to the museum of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy in 1816 asset no. It would be altogether impossible to find another comparable example by Watts, this really is a very scarce example. For more information please contact Spencelayhs of Cambridgeshire.