Battle of the Nile Pocket Watch
English automation watches are scarce. This example commemorates Lord Nelson’s victory in 1798 over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile, the worst defeat in French naval history that catapulted Commander Nelson into a national hero, and therefore has added appeal to both watch collectors and historians.
One of my first acquisitions, it features an outstanding enamel dial that depicts the opposing English and French fleets with an automation of the sinking of the massive French flagship L’Orient.
The name "George Graham Carr" on the movement is probably the first owner of the watch. The dust cover is signed Forster & Barnard, Sheerness, AD 1803, and likely identifies the retailer and location where it was first sold. Sheerness was a Royal Navy dockyard and ship building port town that is located on the Isle of Sheppey at the mouth of the River Thames. 1803 likely the date of manufacture but could also be an important date, for example a retirement date, that the first owner wanted engraved on the watch.
Battle of the Nile Automation
Outstanding enamel dial depicting seven ships of the line engaged in battle flying French and English flags. Medieval castle and desert scene in the background that gives evidence that the depiction is of Aboukir Bay, Egypt, the location of the “Battle of the Nile”. Aperture toward the bottom with a rotating ivory disc beneath that depicts that capsizing of the French flagship L’Orient. Wish we knew who was supplying the dial and automation. It appears to be an aftermarket enhancement or upgrade that a watchmaker could (only) fit to a sub-second movement.
Gilt-brass verge and fusee movement signed George Graham Carr AD (conjoined) 1803 in outward facing script. There is no movement serial number. Pierced and engraved foliate balance table with integrated large grotesque mask and solid foot. Tompion regulator with interesting sun pointer indexing. Round turned pillars. Frame maker initials TE (conjoined) located on the dial plate. Movement likely originated in Lancashire and finished in Coventry (thanks to John Griffiths for this information). Dust cap signed Forster & Barnard, Sheerness AD 1803 with cap makers’ initials “LF” stamped inside.
Plain silver pair case, 58 mm. Both cases with London assay and date mark for 1803. Inner case with makers’ initials “TC” with an axe and diamond above (Thomas Carpenter). Outer case with wear hole where the makers’ mark would have been stamped. Cases have 5-knuckle hinges. Nineteenth century repair papers from Ohio and Virginia. John Woltz of Shepherd’s Town, Virginia, with a repair date of 1816 for a new main spring and cleaning for $2.50; John A. Wright of Leesburg, Virginia circa 1840; and James Ross of Zanesville, Ohio, circa 1850.
Additional References and recommended reading:
Brian Loomes, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, N.A.G. Press, 2006
Philip Priestley, British Watchcase Gold & Silver Marks 1670 to 1970, National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, 2018