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Josiah Emery, Charing Cross, London. A very fine and historically important open face pocket watch originally owned by George IV as Prince of Wales
Gilt brass full plate fusee lever movement with Harrison's maintaining power and chain, going train, patented "double S" balance with two gold mean screws and two gold compensating nuts screwed onto threaded posts fixed to the free ends of the S-shaped bi-metallic strips, free-sprung helical balance spring, impulse roller made of a single piece of sapphire, the discharge roller jewelled in the usual manner, double-footed Emery-type balance bridge, with small diamond end stone, regulator type enamel dial with outer painted minute chapter and single blued steel spade minute hand, eccentric hour chapter at 12 with single blued steel spade hand, subsidiary seconds at 6, later engine turned case with the Royal Coat of Arms, signed cap held by locating pins and one screw, together with gold chain, winding key and later made fitted red velvet box, case stamped IM
Josiah Emery (c.1725-1797) was a Geneva watchmaker who set up in England at 33 Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, London. As an honorary member of the Clockmakers Company in 1781, he was known to have made good quality cylinder watches, but perhaps became more famous as the first watchmaker in the world after the great Thomas Mudge to produce a watch with a lever escapement. He also used the pivoted detent escapement for precision watches.
He was known to have made several time pieces for King George III, who was known to have a particular love of horology. Recordon, who succeeded Emery in 1797, was also known to have continued to work for the King's brother, the Duke of Kent, to whom this watch was eventually given.
The Duke, (1767-1820) the 4th son of George III and later, the father to Queen Victoria was a fairly controversial character, appointed a General and Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America, and strict and unpopular Governor of Gibraltar. He was greatly interested in Robert Owen's social experiments, supported anti-slavery and was in favour of Catholic emancipation, which may explain some of his father, George III's enmity towards him and subsequent poor income afforded to him from the Palace.
It was not uncommon for 'Expensive watches in fashion conscious ownership to be subject to aesthetic upgrading' (see Jonathan Betts, p.519, Part 11, Josiah Emery, Precision Pioneer, Antiquarian horology, Summer 1996) but in this instance, perhaps the case was changed in order for the Royal arms to be altered for its new owner, that of the Duke of Kent. When he died in 1820, it passed to the hands of the Duke of Sussex, and eventually into the hands of Cecil Clutton.
With thanks to the National Maritime Museum for their help in the research on this watch.