This clock contains some interesting features. The bolts
holding the frame together are all countersunk within the frame. The escapement is unusual
for a skeleton clock. All of the escapement components and the second wheel down the going
train have, instead of conventional pivots at the end of their arbors, concave circular
depressions. Conical, hardened needle pivots at the end of a threaded rod screw into
the frame where they insert into each concave depression on the wheel and escapement
components. Each pivot is equipped with a knurled locking nut. This arrangement is more
complicated and expensive to produce than standard arbors with pivots. It does allow for
the separate removal of each escapement component as well as the second wheel in the going
train; all without having to part the plates. It would appear that when the pivots are
properly positioned and in good condition, that there is less friction acting upon the
movement parts than would be in a conventional design. The Debaufre escapement is rare for
a quality skeleton clock, I know of no other examples. Peter Debaufre
invented this escapement in 1704. Escapement video 1, 2, 3.
The count wheel uses staggered steel pins in place of the usual notches.
The forged brass plates are quite thick at 1/4".
There is some doubt as to whether the maker and origin indicated on the
frame plate is correct. The type of escapement was used in French clocks, with no examples
known from English makers. Also the clock employs going barrels in place of English wound
fusees, a rarity in early early 18th century English clocks. The baluster style pillars
are typical of early 18th century French work. The chapter ring and spade hands are,
however, of English style and perhaps were fitted to a French skeleton movement by the W.
Jackson on the name plate. There are several entries under this name and location in
Loomis and Britten's, but considering that this is a common name and a major city that is
This clock is probably unique as no other examples are known. It has been
illustrated in Skeleton Clocks, F. B. Royard-Collard pp. 84-86 as well as British
Skeleton Clocks, Derek Roberts pp. 195-196. An
of the Debaufre escapement appears in that book. With most skeleton clocks the plates as
well as wheels are used to present the overall appearance. In this design, it appears the
maker wanted to minimize the frame letting the wheel work stand out.
Pierre and his brother Jacob working with Geneva
mathematician Nicholas Facio in London learned to pierce rubies and use them
as bearings and end stones for balance staffs. They had submitted for a
patent for these in 1704 which was initially granted but then withdrawn. It
was successfully opposed by the Clockmaker's Company, which argued that such
a monopoly would reduce the British watch industry to servitude. The patent,
after all, could not be enforced abroad, so the makers on the continent
would soon be making jeweled watches without royalty payments putting the
British trade at a disadvantage. Seems to me that this argument could be
used to void any patent!
Provenance: Christie's, South Kensington, UK, December 13, 2006,
lot #90. Formerly, Christie's, London, UK, March 2005, lot #367. Formerly the Albert L.
Odmark collection. Formerly, Ben Wacek collection March 5, 1966.