MADE CIRCA: 1610 - 1615
MATERIAL: Gilt & Silver
MOVEMENT: Verge Escapement
CASE DIAMETER: 76 mm
Originating from Augsburg, Germany, Smith (or Schmidt) was a Huguenot who would have fled to London to escape Religious persecution. Here, he established his workshop at New Exchange, what was then a rival to The Royal Exchange and located at the Strand.
This rare, very early example of a timekeeper would have been made during the very beginning of Smith's residence at the New Exchange and, features an ingenious alarm system whereby, what at first glance appears to be a single hour hand can be divided in two by way of turning the inner rotating dial. Thus, the alarm function can be set and when one would rather not be disturbed by their timekeeper, the inner hand can be friction fit against the arrow head creating a silent, single handed timepiece once more.
The New Exchange was a towering two storey building, within which were based around 100 shops. Its main purpose being to spread the wealth across London, the New Exchange was not an immediate success. However, with the development of Covent Garden and Lincoln's Inn Fields, and with the loss of shops and the Royal Exchange in the Great Fire of London, it became a very fashionable place to shop, and to socialise.
Its appearance during the was described by the visiting Grand Duke Cosmo of Tuscany:
'The building has a facade of stone, built after the Gothic style, which has lost its colour from age and become blackish. It contains two long and double galleries, one above the other, in which are distributed in several rows great numbers of very rich shops of drapers and mercers filled with goods of every kind, and with manufactures of the most beautiful description. These are for the most part under the care of well-dressed women, who are busily employed in work, although many are served by young men called apprentices.'
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