The Boreal Arrow 

Code BA09121325: 1690 Silver Pair Case Verge Fusee Pocket Watch - Thomas Maylard of London and John Heilig of Philadelphia

Beautiful early balance spring English silver pair case pocket watch dating to c.1690. It has just been serviced by a master watchmaker. A copy of the service notice will be provided upon request. A special attention has been devoted to keep the watch in its original condition. Very often, watches of this era are altered or have parts replaced. On this one, all parts are orignal. Even the silver cases were not polished to keep the original old patina. The watch come with a nice old solid silver crank key.


Pocket watches of this date are almost impossible to date from a hallmark as over 90% of cases were without hallmarks until about 1698. The terminology of early pair cases is different to later pair cases, the inner case was referred to as the ' box ' and the outer was referred to as the ' case '. The making of these two parts were often carried out by different artisans. The silver box (or inner case) belonging to this watch is signed with the maker's mark ' I x H '. The case has also the mark of the same maker, although it is marked ' I H '. Inside the outer there is a paper with the inscription ' John Heilig  Clock Watchmaker Germantown 9 miles from Philad. '.  There are two John Heilig in the American clockmaking history. John Heilig (SR) (1765-1841) was well known for creating a tall-case clock, dated 1789, to honor George Washington’s inauguration as the nation’s first president. Frank Hohmann, author of "Timeless," has deemed it one of America’s 100 most important brass dial clocks. John Heilig (the younger) (1804 - 1883) was also a clockmaker and possibly was trained by his uncle John Heilig (SR) and lived in Germantown. My assessment is that John Heilig (the younger) was the maker of the silver case and the silver box since both carry the letters ' I H ' although I cannot figure out why an american Clockmaker would make cases for a movement that was made in London (at that time ' I ' was used instead of a ' J ' as John Banbury who was free of his guild in 1682 and it is listed that his mark was ' I B ' with a coronet overhead).

The solid silver box or inner case is in excellent condition for its age. No damage, only normal marks of use. The early type split bezel is in perfect condition with period high domed plain glass in very good order. Bezel closes as it should. The solid silver outer case also is in very good condition, with strong hinge with normal marks of use and normal wear that should be expected after more than 300 years. The outer case width measures 55 mm. The measurement from front to back including the glass crystal is 30 mm.


The solid silver two piece champleve dial signed ' Maylard London ' is in perfect condition. Champleve meaning ' raised field ', the dial on two levels with lower matted background in between the numerals and chapter rings. The centre disc is a separate piece from the surrounding chapter rings and numerals. Roman hour numerals and Arabic numerals at five minute intervals. Numerals engraved and filled with black wax. Original steel hour hand and minute hand in excellent condition. Gilded dial edge. The dial has not been polished.


Beautiful mercury gilded movement in pristine condition. The movement is signed ' Thomas Maylard London '. Maylard is listed in Britten and Baillies as apprentice in 1682 and free of Clockmakers Company in 1698. The movement has a special feature, it does not carry a serial number, which means that it was probably made to be offered as a gift. The movement has a verge escapement. Lovely early style balance cock. It has a large ' D ' shaped balance cock popular between 1670-1720, as the years progressed the balance cock foot became smaller. Beautiful tulip pillars are one of the fanciest and hardest to construct due to they were all cut by hand.  The movement has a "worm drive" to wind the mainspring where at the turn of the century they started using the popular "ratchet" system under the dial.  The piercing work on the cock and regulator bridge work is absolutely beautiful.  The Tompion style regulator is in excellent condition as well as the regulating bride to adjust the time keeping. The mechanical and physical condition are excellent. Movement, dial, hands and both cases belong with each other. This is a beautiful pocket watch that took part in both American and English history. The movement has been completely cleaned and serviced and is in excellent working condition.


The watch has been tested for timekeeping for several days face up and at the vertical position.

Face up: within 6 min per 24 hours behind (within 15 sec per hour behind).

Vertical: within 14 min per 24 hours ahead (within 35 sec per hour ahead).

This is an excellent timekeeping for a watch of this era. If carried (random positions), it would probably give better results.

This is an extremely rare watch by a quality maker. I'm offering it at a price that will surely seem like a bargain a few years from now, since it will be very hard to find.