The Private Collection of Theodor Beyer

Hotel Baur Au Lac, Zurich, Nov 16, 2003


Hercules Clock. Jerg Ernst, Germany, first quarter of 17th century. Fine and very rare silver, gilt bronze and rock crystal astronomical hour and quarter striking pre-balance spring clock with cross-beat escapement, phases, aspect, and age of the moon.

CHF 150,000 - 200,000

EUR 98,000 - 130,000 / USD 111,000 - 148,000

Sold: CHF 113,500

C. Designed as a monstrance, silver Hercules wearing a gilt lion skin, holding on his head an octagonal gilt brass clock with rock crystal back panel, his arms supporting two silver brackets terminated with gilt torches, hexagonal molded gilt base with four feet, the top with silver appliqué having a mask and bird's heads, terminated with gilt brass finial. D. Set on an oval gilt brass dome pierced and engraved with birds, mask and foliage, silver hour ring with radial Roman numerals and half-hour divisions, outer inclined gilt minute ring with five-minute Arabic markers and Roman quarters, innermost ages of the moon scale with a gilt pointer disc with engraved diagram of aspects and phases of the moon aperture. Blued steel "tulip and poker" hands. M. Oval, gilt brass, full plate, turned baluster pillars, fusee and chain, short 3-wheel train, cross beat escapement with two steel-rod foliots terminated with silver winged cherub masks, elaborately pierced and engraved gilt brass mainspring set-up click, striking quarters from fixed barrel and 4-wheel train terminating with cylindrical brass governor, count wheel under the dial, striking quarters on a bell under the dial dome. Separate hour striking mechanism in the base with circular and octagonal plates, turned baluster pillars, fixed barrel, four-wheel train with circular governor, striking on a bell in the base, activated from the main movement via small rod passing through the body of Hercules. Signature (later) on the back plate.Dim.Height 260 mm, Width 90 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 3-38


Slightly rubbed

Movement: 3-18-21*




Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-05


HANDS Luminous material reapplied


This is the first monstrance clock to appear at auction in a long time; such pieces are exceedingly rare, and generally only to be found in museums. They were popular from the middle of the 16th century until the 18th century. From the later period, a piece in the Müller Collection features the same figure, considered to represent Atlas, supporting the clock. Jorg Ernst, a very able maker, made a few such pieces. Another, also with Atlas holding the globe, is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. A clock very similar to the present one, by Hans Christoph Kreitzer, and no doubt from the same cast, is in the German Museum of Horology in Furtwangen (inv. K-1306). Another, probably also from the same cast, and also with a movement by Kreitzer, is in the Beyer Museum. The present clock is virtually its double.There are only few monstrance clocks with cross-beat escapement in existence. Perhaps the best known is a spectacular piece with multi-astronomical indications by Nikolaus Planckh, in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum.Aspect-the angular relationship between the Zodiacal positions of any two celestial bodies, important for certain astrological determinations. Diagrams of epacts were popular motifs on Renaissance clocks.For a note on the cross-beat escapement as well as a biography of Jerg Ernst, see the previous lot.