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Old 1 June 2009, 11:46 AM   #1
ayecarumba
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Icon17 A "MUST SEE" museum for watch fans everywhere!....Caution! PICS!

It's probably no accident that Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf chose London when he began in the watch trade: It used to be the center of the watchmaking universe!

If you find yourself in London you simply must plan to visit the "Clock(Watch)makers Museum."

http://www.clockmakers.info/index.htm

http://www.clockmakers.info/index_files/page0024.htm

A 5 minute walk from St Paul's Cathedral...Admission is free!

I just returned from my 2nd trip there and this visit was a real treat. I hope all of you have a chance to see it someday. Here are some pics that I hope you enjoy!

One side of the Guild Hall courtyard upon entering...


The entry to the watchmakers museum is on the left..near the autos...


Your humble protagonist, amateur horologist, TRF'er and WIS(!)..entry is through the double doors on the left...


London...and...watches! What's not to love? (note jacket and umbrella in trouser pocket..sigh, is it May?!)


Upon entering you're greeted by a "Who's Who" of London clock & watchmaking with this floor plaque..The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers Coat of Arms is in the center...the names/colors denote their proximity to the museum....


When I came in, the fellow on the right was giving a tour of the museum. His knowledge of the exhibits was superb and he was a pleasure to listen to as he described these historic timepieces....


Turns out it was the curator! Sir Alan White. Now this is who you want to hear talk about the displays! He doesn't normally give tours...Boy, did we luck out! Pictured at back below grandfather clock (looking very bored!)is my hapless colleague,Dave, who didn't know what he was getting himself into! I'm sure he will never tag along with me again if I mention the word "watch" in my itinerary!


The beauty and rich history of London Clock and Watchmaking came alive with his detailed descriptions. Back then, watches were individually commissioned works of art with beautiful details and elaborate craftsmanship...


Sir Alan described how London was the original heart of the fine watch and clock making industry....And that during the Napoleonic wars era they enjoyed a near monopoly on the trade....


Some of John Harrison's ingenious works are on display...on the upper right is one of his pendulum clocks powered with wooden(!) gears, and a running replica of his H1, the first true "Chronometer" that helped solve the longitude dilemma...


Before parachrome hairsprings and ceramic bezels there were....Wooden gears!


Wow! It's H5! The last Chronometer built of the design that won John Harrison the Longitude prize...below is his own personal watch built for him by John Jeffreys...


A Marine Chronometer from the EJ Dent Co...the guys who built the clocks on the belltowers of parliament (aka Big Ben)


The end of an era begins: In the late 19th century after Napoleons defeat, British watchmakers and the trade were open to competition from the continent....French, German, even American timepieces began to flood the market....the pieces on the lower right in red are all Bregeuts...


Closer on the Bregeuts...it was hard to shoot as everything is behind glass...


Some mass produced watches from Waterbury Co (Pre-Timex!?)...cheap, mass produced, and reliable timepieces were the beginning of the end for the London clockmakers who thought their clients wouldn't buy such inferior products....(boy, does history repeat itself?!)


Even though Sir Edmund Hillary became a Rolex ambassador, he wore a Smiths Industries wristwatch on his summit of Mt Everest...here it is! The black ribbon is a temporary addition to mark his recent passing....


A bust of George Daniels, British inventor of the Co-Axial escapement...
http://www.danielslondon.com/


I had the opportunity to meet and chat for a few moments with Sir Alan...I thanked him profusely and told him I would help spread the word about this beautiful little gem of a museum! Had on my Breitling B1 that day....

Capped off my day with a victory lap through Harrods impressive fine watch department (sorry, no pics allowed!). Rolex has their own boutique...Then it was Fish'n'chips and a cold beer....Life is GOOD!

Hope you enjoyed your virtual visit....hope you can see it in person someday soon as my photos don't do it justice! Tell them TRF sent you!


--Paul
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Old 1 June 2009, 11:56 AM   #2
Abuwolfie
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Very interesting and informative.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 1 June 2009, 12:06 PM   #3
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That place is now on the list of things I will have to do once I finally fly over the pond to jolly old England!
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Old 1 June 2009, 12:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing! That is very cool!
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Old 1 June 2009, 12:23 PM   #5
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Things to do in England:

1. Visit a castle

2. Visit the clock museum

3. Find out what goes in blood pudding

4....
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Old 1 June 2009, 12:25 PM   #6
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Thanks !
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Old 1 June 2009, 01:01 PM   #7
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Wow thanks for sharing paul...i wonder how much those vintage pocket watches cost...
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Old 1 June 2009, 01:25 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing those. Very cool and a definite stop next time over.


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Old 1 June 2009, 01:29 PM   #9
ayecarumba
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Thanks Oscar...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bodybump View Post
Wow thanks for sharing paul...i wonder how much those vintage pocket watches cost...
Funny you should ask....b/c I asked the same question to Sir Alan. He mentioned the value of the collection was obviously in the "millions." I asked him what the most valuable piece in the collection was. He unhesitatingly replied the "Harrison H5 Chronometer." When I asked him what it might fetch if it were ever up for auction, he answered "I don't know as it's priceless!"

I mean, to get a teensy idea, here's a link talking about the 1933 Patek "Graves" supercomplication which I believe has fetched the highest auction price of any watch to date ($10 million dollars!!)
http://most-expensive.net/pocket-watch



They had 100s of watches....Including some of the most important ones in history! The only other place I saw Harrison timepieces was at the Royal Naval Observatory at Greenwich.


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Old 1 June 2009, 02:00 PM   #10
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Outstanding pics! I want to visit.

One question though... I could swear, that Rolex advertises Sir Edmun Hillary had an Explorer... or maybe it was too early for that model... but some model Rolex on his wrist when he scaled Everest. Am I hallucinating? (again)
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Old 1 June 2009, 02:24 PM   #11
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Really excellent write up, Paul. I don't know what I expected the H5 too look like but it's much smaller than I imagined. I had something like a ships compass in mind. Must visit when I'm over to see the family. Sir Edmond did not wear a Rolex to the summit. Never knew that. What does the letter he wrote to Rolex refer too then I wonder?
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Old 1 June 2009, 03:00 PM   #12
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Paul, thanks for sharing the pics of your visit. What a neat place!
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Old 1 June 2009, 04:25 PM   #13
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Great info and pics, Paul......many thanks for sharing!!

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Old 1 June 2009, 04:28 PM   #14
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Great pics Paul, thanks for sharing

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Old 1 June 2009, 04:29 PM   #15
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That certainly will be very entertaining on a European vacation!!
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Old 1 June 2009, 04:30 PM   #16
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Really Cool........thanks.
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Old 1 June 2009, 06:16 PM   #17
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That was an excellent photo tour Paul

Thank you very much for the tour

Do they have many wristwatches on display or is it mostly pocket watches and clocks?

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Old 1 June 2009, 06:16 PM   #18
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That was an excellent photo tour Paul

Thank you very much for the tour

Do they have many wristwatches on display or is it mostly pocket watches and clocks?

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Old 1 June 2009, 06:27 PM   #19
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thanks Paul very well written and informative
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Old 1 June 2009, 06:37 PM   #20
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Great pictures and neat place!
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Old 1 June 2009, 06:50 PM   #21
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Great Read Thank you Sir :)
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Old 1 June 2009, 09:00 PM   #22
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Great info and pics Paul and yes its a great place been there quite a few times.Fact John Harrison's marine chronometer a watch made nearly 300 years ago is as accurate or more accurate than best Swiss watches made today and without a parachrome hairspring.So we haven't progressed a lot accuracy wise in over 300 years since Harrison's day. So most Swiss COSC tested wristwatch chronometers are, by the almost 300 year old 18th century navigational standards imposed on John Harrison,H4 watch,quite laughably inaccurate, even by todays standards.How about just 5 seconds slow after 63 days at sea,in one of the toughest environments known to man, not bad for a almost 300 year old watch.Now in those days no modern machinery no computer design no robots,just his bare hands and crude tools.Now when some of you guys look at your watch and moan because its a few seconds out you wont feel so bad. Just think and get into perspective a real watchmaker like John Harrison .
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Old 1 June 2009, 10:25 PM   #23
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Didnt know it existed. Thanks for shring
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Old 1 June 2009, 11:51 PM   #24
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wow great photos thanx for sharing...
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Old 1 June 2009, 11:52 PM   #25
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that was AWESOME, paul. thanks so much for sharing!
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Old 1 June 2009, 11:54 PM   #26
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Paul what a tour.

I was in London in April but did not know about this dream of a place.

Thanks for allowing us to share the tour with you
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Old 2 June 2009, 12:51 AM   #27
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Great Post Paul!!!!

Thanks for sharing!!!!

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Old 2 June 2009, 01:24 AM   #28
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Mainly pocket watches and clocks. You will be hard pushed to find a better collection.
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Old 2 June 2009, 01:43 AM   #29
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The British Museum holds over 900 clocks and 4500 watches in it's collection. Would recommend if you and visiting London.
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Old 2 June 2009, 01:48 AM   #30
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Put that on my "must see list" when I visit London!
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