Saturday, January 25, 2014

Precious Time: The Edward East Watch, 1635

Edward East
Britain, 1635
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Edward East (1602-1697) was apprenticed to the Goldsmiths' Company’s Richard Rogers in 1618, becoming a Freeman in 1627. By 1632 East was created one of the first Assistants of the Clockmakers' Company (founded 1631), serving as “Master of the Company” in 1645 and, again, in 1653. East’s work was so admired by the aristocrats of London Society that, in 1660 he was appointed as Chief Clockmaker to the king.

East’s watches, especially, were coveted and treasured. We can see why when we look at this handsome timepiece which East made in 1635. With its architectural overtones, exquisite movement and hour ring adorned with inlaid figures in black enamel, the watch is a true masterpiece. The watch case takes the form of a gourd made of rock crystal which has been mounted in gilt brass.

Depicting on the dial (inside the hour ring) is an engraved and inlaid scene of the birth of Christ. Above this, a nude representation of “Time” displays his typical attributes of a scythe and an hour glass.

We should note that Seventeenth Century watches—accessories only available to the most wealthy—typically only had one hand. 

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