2024 February Meeting

1st February 2024

‘Early Rolex Watches’

Jon Clasper

Jonathan Clasper, a recently retired Army Orthopaedic Surgeon, who specialised in Trauma and the upper limbs, working recently with the NHS at Frimley Park Hospital.

“I have always had an interest in watches, and from a young age saw a Rolex watch as the ultimate must have”. Outside of medicine I enjoy history, and so the history of wristwatches, particularly their association with the military has always fascinated me. Unlike most collectors who seem to desire the rare steel Rolexes of the 50’s and 60’s my interest has always been early silver trench watches, especially as they cost a fraction of the price of a Paul Newman Daytona!

My talk will consider the early years of Rolex, mostly pre-1920. It is a time that isn’t well understood but can be inferred by looking at the watches themselves. In particular I will show that many opinions that are published can’t really be supported by the evidence. In particular:

  • It’s difficult to actually define what an early Rolex wristwatch is.
  • Rolex were not the first wristwatch enthusiasts.
  • Rolex weren’t the most successful wristwatch retailer pre-WW1.
  • Rolex benefitted from a change in the import law in 1907, and the demand during WW1.
  •  Rolex did sell their own pocket watches.
  • A Rolex watch wasn’t the premium product.
  • Rolex together with Aegler, were innovating right from the earliest days.

In addition, I will propose a way of dating the early Rolex watches, which allows their development to be followed.

Doors open at 19:30, Starting 20.00 hours.

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2024 January Meeting

4th January 2024

‘Old Myths, new insights – The Regulators of William Hardy’

Graham Dolan

Graham Dolan is Curator Emeritus at the Royal Museums Greenwich and was previously Senior Education officer at the Museum’s Royal Observatory site. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In 1807, the chronometer maker William Hardy persuaded the Board of Longitude to run a trial, at the Royal Observatory, of a regulator escapement that he had recently invented and fitted to an existing clock, by another maker. Its performance was such. that the Astronomer Royal ordered a bespoke clock from Hardy for use with the new Mural Circle that was being made for the Observatory by Edward Troughton.

When the clock arrived at the Observatory in 1811, there was a mighty row over the size of Hardy’s bill. Further controversy followed in 1830, when, after a period of indifferent performance, Edward Dent was permitted to change Hardy’s escapement for a dead-beat one of his own. Things were further compounded by the fact that Dent also decided to add his name to the dial.

Hardy’s clock is one of the most important that the Observatory ever owned. It served as a transit clock from the time of its arrival until it was retired from active service in 1954. During the period 1823 to 1871 it was also the de facto sidereal standard – the clock by which all the Observatory’s other clocks were set. During its life, it has undergone numerous and significant alterations. It can be seen today in the same position that it has occupied since the end of 1850.

In total, Hardy made at least 18 regulators, and possibly as many as 23 or more. Amongst those who originally owned them were wealthy individuals rich enough to have an observatory of their own. Others were supplied for government and privately funded institutions, including two clocks for the American Coastal Survey and three to the Russian Government. A recent survey of 12 of Hardy’s surviving clocks has shown that only two of them may once have been identical. The talk will end with a review of these 12, with some of the differences between them will being highlighted.

Doors open at 19:30, Starting 20.00 hours.

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start