Back Up Next

Maker, Henri Alfred Campiche, Geneva, Switzerland, c. 1900, serial #2, 6.25"h x 7.25"diameter excluding dome and base. Electrically impulsed helical spring balance wheel. With original dome and base 12.5"h x 9.5"diameter. An unusual electric master clock whose design is horizontally oriented in the manner of a marine chronometer. Movement plates spotted and entire works gilt. First-generation experimental model made for a later production chronometer marketed by Paul Ditisheim. This example was the earliest use of electricity in connection with a marine chronometer. (1)

Campiche made a very small number of chronometers of this first-generation prototype, probably fewer than 6. There are currently 2 that are known to exist all with serial numbers less than 6.  

Click on the picture to go to a page for more detail.

                                        

                                        

                                      

The movement is of full plate construction in several tiers. The blued free sprung 28 coil helical spring on the lower tier, with terminal curve is of the helical free sprung type and the split, bimetallic compensated balance wheel is exceptionally large. The balance beating seconds but with  a coup perdu arrangement advancing the escape wheel at two second intervals. There is a large solenoid coil that is mounted between the plates which attracts a pivoted armature when it is energized. The armature operates a system of levers to give impulse to the large balance through a brass piece attached to the balance. Mounted on the end of the balance staff, a disc with a spring loaded pallet gathers the teeth of a wheel which carries the seconds hand and turns once a minute. This wheel also carries a metal pin arranged to brush a pair of contacts at the appropriate moment which energizes the coil. Another set of contacts can be used to operate a slave dial. Movement gilded and fully jeweled (except motion works); plates damascened.

The English patent for an electro-mechanical movement based on this test model was awarded to Campiche on February 11, 1904, #3449. Campiche and Paul Ditisheim collaborated over the design of this unusual timepiece. Most likely it was a developmental model which was used as the design basis for a marine chronometer made by Ditisheim. It appears that a few of these were made as test beds for the final design of Ditisheim's chronometer. Only two movements of this type are known to have survived. The other nearly identical movement is numbered 5, with frosted, non-gilded movement plates. It was in an advertisement for dealer Raffety Huber, London in September 1983 issue of Antiquarian Horology, and was last seen at  Christie's, London, November 25, 1998, Lot #417.

(1) The Marine Chronometer in the Age of Electricity, David Reed, Antiquarian Horology, September 2015, pp.343-360.

Provenance: Sotheby's, New York, October 14, 2004; Lot #843. Formerly from The Time Museum, Rockford, Illinois, USA. Inventory No. 3536.  Literature: The Time Museum Catalog of Chronometers, Anthony G. Randall, U.S.A. 1991, catalog #49 pp. 136-7, figs. 83a & b.

Back Up Next