Carriage Clocks

Stagecoach mechanical musical clock, with central "jumping" seconds hand, Petite Sonnerie chimes, and keys

    Stagecoach mechanical musical clock, with central "jumping" seconds hand, Petite Sonnerie chimes, and keys

    Britain, London

    circa 1780

    Timothy Williamson

    Silver, shargreen leather, enamel, glass, rock crystal (?); casting, embossing, gilding, engraving, punching

    13.1 cm in diamter
    3.2 cm thick

    Inscription on the movement: "Tim. Williamson London".


    Musical mechanical clock in round artistically executed case, with lid, and decorative crown with ring. The case's lid is adorned with the engraved flower bouquet framed with a wreath of flowers and herbs and edged with an engraved floral ornament. The movement's case is smooth, edged with engraved flower rosettes' patterns, with four apertures for winding the clock and setting the hands. The clock is stired in a silver box covered with shagreen leather with metal studs.

    The face is white enamel; numbers and graduations of the hours' scale are black; the hours and minutes hands are gilded, and the seconds' hands are of blued steel. The dial with two scales: minutes', divided into 60 intervals with Arabic numerals, and hours', divided into 12 graduations with Roman numerals. Additional jumping central seconds' hand and small, unmarked seconds' dial.

    The bezel is adorned with rock crystal and geometric pattern.

    The movement with a balance wheel, verge escapement, three winding barrel drums, a Petite Sonnerie hour and quarter chimes with a stopper; the tune is played hourly by six hammers striking a group of six bells. The clock is winded with a key, which is also used to set the hands.


    Made for the Chinese market.

    One of today's best watch and clock collections is the collection of the Gugong imperial palace in Beijing formed over the time of reign of the Manchurian Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The Palace Museum has over 2, scientific and technical instruments, including imported astronomical and surveying instruments and their analogues made in Chinese shops under the guidance of Western missionaries, and a collection of 312 mechanical watches, including Chinese and Western interior and pocket watches from watchmaking firms of Britain, France, Switzerland and other European countries.

    European mechanical watches and other contemporary astronomical instruments in the reign of the Qing dynasty were included in the imperial ceremony and became symbols of power of this Manchu dynasty. The ceremonial items, for example, included a pavilion-shaped clock, known in Europe since the 16th century, and this type of casing was preserved in Europe's products for the Chinese market.

    The types of cases for Western and Chinese mechanisms in the Palace Museum collection illustrate the process whereby clocks and watches were evolving from a scientific instruments into a table ornament distinguished by a variety of the narrative and exquisite technical and artistic execution. The clocks were created in the 1760-1780s by such English makers as Thomas Gardner, Thomas Terryman, Timothy Williamson and James Cox, among others. (See: Neglinskaya M.A. Collecting interior clocks at the time by the Qing dynasty court, and its role in the 18th century watchmaking [in Russian]).