A gold, enamel and rock crystal pair-cased watch, made and decorated in the 17th Century, belonged originally to John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700). In the Earl’s account with Child’s Bank, on 16th April 1686, there is an entry, ‘Mr Gretton, for a watch, £20.00’.
As with many watches of this period, as technology advanced, so the movements were modernised. The splendid case, with polychrome enamel decoration, is now fitted with a watch movement made by John Fladgate in the 18th Century.
The second watch is a fine example of 19th Century watchmaking dating from c. 1810. Made by Lepine, it has a half quarter repeating calendar lever movement. There are subsidiary dials for seconds and calendar and an aperture for the phases of the moon.
This complex and expensive timepiece belonged to Brownlow, 2nd Marquess of Exeter (1795-1867), for whom, as Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, accurate timekeeping would doubtless have been important.
The silver compass, housed in an octagonal amber bowl with lid, also belonged to John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700), often described as the ‘Travelling Earl.’
He journeyed to Italy on four long Grand Tours during the latter part of the 17th Century. Whilst most of the routes used by the Earl’s party were well-established and mapped, those that led from France to Italy through the Alps were poor. A compass would certainly have been useful.