The Sandberg Watch Collection

Hotel Richemond, Geneva, Mar 31, 2001

LOT 254

John Stileman, Londini, circa 1630.Extremely fine and rare small 20 ct. gold single-hand enamel and rock-crystal pendant watch.

CHF 40,000 - 60,000

USD 25,000 - 35,000

Sold: CHF 40,250

C. Two-body, the back and front in faceted rock crystal with gold bezels decorated with translucent red and green and white enamel, pendant and button finial similarly enamelled, loose ring. D. Gilded, oval, radial Roman chapter ring engraved with leaf decoration. Blued-steel hand. M. 16.3 x 20 mm, oval, gilt brass full plate, turned vase pillars, fusee and gut-line for the going train, verge escapement, two-arm steel circular foliot, elongated pinned cock asymmetrically pierced with floral engrving, ratchet wheel and click set-up.Signed on the movement.Dim. 39 x 22 mm. Published in the Sandberg book, pages 52-53.

Click to full view

Grading System
Case: 3 - 18
Movement: 3 - 8*
Dial: 3 - 02


There are relatively few surviving English watches that we can date to the first half of the seventeenth century. Of these, one sees only a handful in gold and enamel. Examining the inventories of property belonging to Queen Elizabeth I, one sees that she was in possession of a fair number of both small clocks and watches mounted in gold with enamel and even precious stones. England was not a major centre for either horology or enamelling at the time. The fact that so very few pieces have survivd may well be explained by the political circumstances. England was ravaged by civil war during the reign of Charles I. It is well known that he 'cashed in' many of the Crown's possessions, particularly jewels and plate, to pay for campaigns. Following the defeat of the Royalists and the King execution, the puritan period under Cromwell virtually forbade wearing or even making such luxury objects. More examples were even likely to have been scrapped to provide funds for impoverished aristocrats.John Stileman is recorded as a Brother of the Clockmakers' Company in 1640. However, the evidence points to this watch being made somewhat earlier. The style of the case, particularly the enamelling (close to German and French work from circa 1600) dates from the first quarter of the seventeenth century. The apparent inconsistency of the recorded date may be explained by the title 'Brother', as distinct from Freeman or Liveryman. It was the case that craftsman belonging to another Company (herehe most likely one would be the Goldsmith's) could be made a Brother if their work brought them into an allied trade..