Maurice Smith Pocket Watch
I was initially attracted to this watch because of its fine champlevé dial. Mourice Smith apprenticed to Robert Webster from 1693 to 1701 and was free in 1702. His master, Robert Webster, married the sister of the renowned maker Robert Seigniour and became Master of the Clockmakers’ Company following Thomas Tompion in 1705. Two of Robert’s sons apprenticed to Tompion, and son William continued to work for Tompion as a journeyman (Bruce Maclean, Antiquarian Horology). Apparently, Smith was well connected and that shows in this very good quality watch. Few watches by Maurice Smith are recorded. Another is pictured in several publications and features an intriguing dial that displays the time through two apertures when the case pendent is pressed.
There were many great makers who predominantly worked for others. I think Maurice Smith was one of them and therefore helps explain how other well-known makers, like Tompion, Gretton, and Windmills were able to produce so many watches.
Circa 1705 - 1710, gilt-brass verge and fusee movement engraved Maurice Smith In Cornhill London 208 in inward facing script. Pierced and engraved folate balance table with two birds, and a mustached mask engraved at the neck. Three arm steel balance. Four Egyptian pillars and split fusee stop-work foot with decorative divider.
Silver champlevé dial signed M Smith London of very fine quality with decorative scrolls, flowers and a shell. Split silver bezel. Silver cases have 7-knuckle hinges and are very well made. 58 mm. Prominent square case hinge. Pair case with makers’ mark “TI” with a coronet above for Thomas Jenkins (free of Clockmakers’ Company in 1677). The inner “box” additionally punched 208 matching the movement serial number. Came with an early silver chain of about 5 inches and keys. Replaced hands; the hour a particularly nice and old adaptation.
Several plain filler papers within the case and one advertising watch paper by Thomas Garrett of Philadelphia, circa 1830’s. It reads, Thomas C. Garrett, Clock, Watch, Jewellery, Silver Ware and Spectacle Store (notice that Garrett is wearing spectacles). No. 11 South Fourth Street, Between Market & Chesnut (sic), PHILADa.
Additional References and recommended reading:
Brian Loomes, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, N.A.G. Press, 2006
Bruce Maclean, The Webster Family of Clockmakers, Antiquarian Horology, June 1955, pp. 93-94
Philip Priestley, British Watchcase Gold & Silver Marks 1670 to 1970, National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, 2018