8th September 2022
BERESFORD HUTCHINSON LECTURE 2022 – “A TALE OF TWO WATCHES”.
VISCOUNT ALAN MIDLETON.
James Marten welcomed Viscount Midleton for the Beresford Hutchinson lecture of 2022. Alan kindly agreed to talk to us on two watches in his possession. With his Conan Doyle hat on, he recreates the early history of these watches using the evidence provided by the watches themselves.
The first pocket watch, 42mm diameter, has initials GF engraved on the back with a crown above which suggests royal provenance. Made by Recordon, Breguet’s London agent, who took out Patent 1249 for a pedometer wind mechanism. The dial, of this watch, retained with one screw from the front, similar to the continental practice by Breguet, and the seconds dial was set between 4 and 5 o’clock. This watch has a mono-metallic balance but use a compensation curb rather than bi-metallic balances which, while not exactly unusual, is perhaps less usual in English watches. It has a dumb repeating mechanism with a continental type of plunger through the pendant. Alan put forward the evidence to suggest that the Prince Regent had a hand in the ownership of the watch and may have gifted it to Beau Brummel or Lord Paget.
The second watch dated similarly 1808 also by Recordon London was large, 60mm. Breguet style hands, with no second’s dial or front dial retaining screw, wound through the dial, as with continental watches and a gold ring surrounding the winding hole to protect the enamel dial. Alan noted it to have a loud repeat mechanism. On the back there is the Coat of Arms of the Paget family and in Alans opinion the watch almost certainly belonged to the head of this family, the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge. who lost a leg at the Battle of Waterloo and was subsequently created Marquess of Anglesey. This watch had a ruby cylinder escapement, a mono-metallic balance but also used a bimetallic compensation curb, and a press button to release the spring-loaded cap being a continental practice.
There is a Breguet which was for the Prince of Wales with Prince Wales feathers the initials GP (George Principal), engraved beneath. Breguet kept meticulous records unfortunately Recordon business records have not survived but we assume they as detailed as Breguet’s or the Vulliamy’s held at the BHI Library in Upton Hall.
Alan showed references to a Vulliamy watch, the seconds dial at 3 o’clock, which was NOT listed in the workbook records and a watch by Rentzsch, the dial was damaged and held in by two screws through the dial face and had unusual hands pointing at Arabic numerals. The Minute dial was located at top centre. The larger central hand indicating the hour. The back cover of this watch is engraved belonged to Queen Charlotte the gift of the four princesses to Herbert Taylor January 1819 so it is not impossible that first watch was gifted by the Prince Regent.
During his lecture Viscount Midleton gave us much historical detail including that of George III, who supported Harrison in his fight with the board of Longitude. His eldest son the Prince of Wales, known as ‘Prinny’ was lazy dissolute and extravagant where his father was (when sane) inquisitive and industrious. The Viscount then spoke of the 1st Earl of Uxbridge who enjoyed a worthy rather than distinguished career as Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey and Staffordshire, Constable of Caernarfon Castle, Ranger of the forest of Snowden. South London branch members were treated to details of other luminaries such as the Duke of Wellington, the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge and the escapee Napoleon Bonaparte.
In conclusion Duncan thanked Viscount Midleton for a highly informative and detailed lecture covering the period. The members and guests showed their appreciation as Duncan presented him with a vintage bottle of clock oil.
For those of you not able to attend log in details will be sent in a separate email. Please log in from 19:40 .
The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.
THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)
SURREY RH9 8DU
7.30pm for 8.00pm Start