Thomas White Pocket Watch
I was attracted to this watch because of its colorful dial and triple case. This example was made when the demand for watches by the emerging middle class was growing fast and there was a fashion resurgence for decorative outer shagreen and turtle shell cases. There were many ways for a retailer to vary case materials, and movement features and quality to provide a broad range of price options that would appeal to a price-sensitive customer base. A multi-color dial and double outer cases was likely the upper end offering for this retailer, Thomas White.
Gilt-brass verge and fusee movement of good quality signed Thos White London with inward facing script. Serial number 9532 on the movement and case. Pierced and engraved balance table with an urn at the bottom and solid foot. Square baluster pillars and decorative fusee stop-work foot. Original enamel dial with Roman hours and Arabic 5-minute index with gold color fleur-de-lis at the half hours.
Silver pair case with London assay, date mark for 1788, case makers’ initials “JC" and King George III export duty mark. This export duty mark was used from 1786 to 1798 and gives evidence that the watch was likely destined to the American market. Inner case has a 7-knuckle hinge, outer two cases have 5-knuckle hinges. Third case of tortoise shell (more accurately hawksbill turtle shell) with silver pique work around the circumference. 58 mm (triple case).
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