Thomas Windmills

A few renowned watchmakers made movements with regulation through the dial and this is one of them. The purpose was to eliminate the need to open the case to regulate the watch which introduced dust and raised the risk of damage due to careless handling. Joseph Windmills was one of the best makers in the late 17th century. His son Thomas became his partner in 1700. Both were active in the London Clockmakers' Company and Thomas was elected Master in 1718. This watch is signed by Thomas Windmills and dates about 1705. Regulation through the dial is discussed in Neale's book on Windmills; a similar example is in The British Museum, serial number 2931, that was made at about the same time as this watch.

Thomas Windmills Pocket Watch

Regulation Through the Dial

Gilt-brass verge and fusee movement signed Tho Windmills London in outward facing script. Pierced and engraved folate balance table with two birds, and a female face engraved at the neck. Serial number 2963 stamped on the inside of the back plate and outside of the pillar plate. Three arm ribbed steel balance. Four Egyptian pillars and decorative fusee stop-work foot.

Notice the decorative circular engraving located where the silver Tompion regulator disk would normally be placed (just left of the balance table), but of course is absent on this watch because the regulator is located under the silver dial. Seems that Windmills wanted to clearly convey that it was not missing.

Windmills Watch
Thomas Windmills Watch
Thomas Windmills Watch
William Jacques watch case
Windmills Watch

Silver champlevé dial signed WINDMILLS in in decorative cartouche with blued regulation dial and adjustment aperture through the dial. Beetle and poker hands. Split silver bezel.

Original silver pair case both with makers’ mark “WI” with a pellet between (William Jacques). This example wonderfully shows that the Windmills were diligent about tracking and recording their serial numbers. Notice that the correct serial number 2963 was mistakenly stamped as 2693 on the cases and corrected by stamping "96" on top of the two middle numbers "69". Then to avoid any doubt the outer case was stamped again with the correct serial number, 2963. Mistakes like this one as well as engraving mistakes must have happened with some frequency and are a reminder that no spelling standards existed and that many craftsman were illiterate. Cases have 7-knuckle hinges. Light monogram on the back of the outer case illegible. 58 mm.

Additional References and recommended reading:

  • Keith Bates, Early Clock and Watchmakers of the Blacksmiths' Company, Pendulum Publications, 2018

  • Brian Loomes, Clockmakers of Britain, 1286-1700, Mayfield Books, 2014

  • J.A.Neale, Joseph And Thomas Windmills Clock And Watch Makers 1671-1737, AHS, 1999, p. 197 and Table B

  • Philip Priestley, British Watchcase Gold & Silver Marks 1670 to 1970, National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, 2018

  • Dennis Radage, Warner Meinen, Laila Radage, Charles Gretton, Clock and Watchmaking: Through the Golden Age, Three O’clock Publishing, 2016