English deck chronometer by Molyneux – €31,000 (£28,000) at Cortrie.

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The silver case is hallmarked for 1829 while the signature Molyneux & Sons, 44 Devonshire Street indicates it was made sometime between 1830, when Molyneux’s sons joined him in the business, and 1832 when the firm moved to new premises at 30 Southampton Row.

The major part of Molyneux’s business was concerned with precision watches and chronometers. Exactly when he came to London is not known, but in his early years he had been a keen student of Thomas Earnshaw.

By c.1800 he had started up in business on his own at Devonshire Street and must have quickly gained a fine reputation, as in 1805 he was asked by the Board of Longitude to adjudicate on inventions made by both Earnshaw and John Arnold.

Generally, a deck watch was used as a secondary timepiece, to be wound and synchronised daily with the ship’s official clock. Its prime requirement was isochronism, the consistency of timekeeping.


English deck chronometer by Molyneux (original case shown) – €31,000 (£28,000) at Cortrie.

This fine chronometer, very much in the manner of Earnshaw, was in exceptional condition with matching numbers to the dial and movement, original blued steel hands and the original box with ivory panel reading Deck Watch Molyneux No.1326.

It came for sale at Cortrie Special-Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) in Hamburg on May 15 with a guide of €3000-6000 but sold for €31,000 (£28,000).