Only time will tell

In the first Clocks Auction of 2019 at McTear’s, on the 1st of February, you can find an exquisite, original Georgian carriage clock.

At the beginning of the 19th century, clockmakers began developing new designs with the use of advancing technologies.  Modernisation meant new developments in mass production. In clockmaking, this meant machines, patterns and techniques were standardised so parts could be used in many clocks. 

This helped with accuracy as clocks were using the same precise time.  Furthermore, at this time, clocks became more accessible to the public as they were more portable and less expensive than before.  Lot 1438 is an example of this design technique as it measures just 17.5cm high, a convenient size for a clock in the early 19th century.

At this time, the carriage clock – a small, spring driven clock – was invented in France by Abraham Louis Breguet (1747-1823).  Also known as a pendule de voyage, the lightweight clock was designed for time keeping while travelling.  Usually rectangular in shape and set with glass, they replaced the larger pendulum bracket clock with a more accessible, modest design.  Due to their size and weight, they were easily transportable.  Lot 1438 features a swing handle and is also lightweight to ensure ease in transportation.


Throughout the 19th century, the British produced far fewer examples of carriage clocks than the French, however, their designs were of a far higher quality meaning they became more desirable.  Lot 1438 in the upcoming Clocks & Scientific Instruments auction features a British example by the London maker James Murray (1780-1847) who has been described as ‘one of the most eminent makers of the period.’  The attractive clock has a white enamel dial with Roman numerals, contrasting to the scroll and floral engraved ormolu face.  Typical of a carriage clock, it features a four glass case with brass banding. 

Since the invention of the carriage clock, timekeeping has seen many developments including electronic and atomic timekeeping and digitalisation. In 2019, an Apple watch may be more convenient than a carriage clock but it is clear that the originality, beauty and interest in the timeless design of lot 1438 is unmistakable.  Whether you are looking to add character to your home or are a collector looking to add to your collection, this clock is a wonderful find.

View the full catalogue here >>>>

Hannah Hughes

Featuring timepieces of all types – from the grandest grandfather clock to the most elegant enamel clock – and instruments including sextants, military and medical pieces, as well as musical instruments and cameras.

Dedicated auctions of clocks & instruments are held every twelve weeks.

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