A silver paircase verge watch with interesting inscriptionsigned Robt. Whatley, London 2025. , the cases HM London, date letter "K" for 1805/06, case maker's incuse mark WL, pellet between, crescent above.
Lot 66
A silver paircase verge watch with interesting inscriptionsigned Robt. Whatley, London 2025. , the cases HM London, date letter "K" for 1805/06, case maker's incuse mark WL, pellet between, crescent above.
Sold for US$ 3,904 inc. premium
Lot Details
A silver paircase verge watch with interesting inscription
signed Robt. Whatley, London 2025. , the cases HM London, date letter "K" for 1805/06, case maker's incuse mark WL, pellet between, crescent above.
Gilt full plate fusee movement with pierced balance cock engraved with a lyre, damaged white enamel dial with Arabic chapters, gold spade hands, within worn plain silver pair cases, the back of the outer case engraved, " T M H / HMS / VICTORY". 56.5 mm diam.

Footnotes

  • The presumption is, of course, that the inscription refers to Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1837), Horatio Nelson's Flag Captain at Trafalgar, who was with Nelson when he was shot. There is some permissive evidence that this could be true, but no conclusive evidence confirms it. The inscription is worn to a degree consistent with the general wear to the watch so the famous story of the timing of the Battle of Trafalgar is worth relating.

    At the very least, the date letter in the case means the present watch could have been purchased as early as the summer before Trafalgar (21 Oct 1805). It is well known that the officers of the Victory acquired watches during the summer of 1805.

    The Victory returned to England in August 1805. It is documented that the officers of the Victory purchased as least one watch for Nelson and quite possibly some for themselves. A chaise watch by McCabe, inscribed, "Pres. To Adml. Lord Nelson By the Officers of HMS Victory Aug 20 1805" (sold at Sotheby's Nelson sale 5 Oct 2005, lot 184.). Hardy was one of these officers and may have procured a relatively serviceable watch such as a silver verge for use on board ship. As the fleet remained in near coastal waters, any watch would have been of limited utility and a precision time keeper, an expensive luxury.

    Nelson, on the other hand, used his own Josiah Emery precision watch to coordinate the timing of the battle. "...marks on the movement show that Nelson had his watch overhauled during his final, brief leave in England in August 1805...Two months later, as the action commenced on the morning of 21 October, William Beatty, the surgeon in Victory observed how Nelson: 'called Lieutenant Pasco, Mr Ogilvie, and some other officers, near him, and desired them to set their watches by the time of that which His Lordship wore. (footnote to the description of Nelson's Emery watch that was sold by private treaty at the 2005 sale.) A good verge watch would certainly be adequate for this task.

    The watch could have arrived in the US during the war of 1812. Hardy commanded a British fleet off the coast that captured a large portion of the coast of Maine, including the town of Eastport. According to one account, Hardy was honored by the town of Eastport, presumably because he allowed them to keep their private property. In a leap of faith, one can imagine the watch the watch left behind as a gift to a local dignitary. There is no mention of this in the local histories of the occupation. Hardy had a distinguished career and went on to become First Naval Lord in 1830.
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