Thomas Mudge’s 1762 perpetual calendar is one of the standout highlights from Sotheby’s The English Watch, Part II sale
Thomas Mudge is one of those names that simply sounds redolent of his time. An ingenious watchmaker, his work was overshadowed to a certain extent by more illustrious contemporaries such as John Harrison, John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw, despite Mudge being the inventor of the lever escapement that’s been used almost universally since the 19th century and is only now in any danger of being superseded.
Best known for his design and sheer craftsmanship, he still won George Daniels’ vote as the “Freeman (of the Clockmakers’ Company) who added most to the prestige of British Horology”. Nevertheless, Lot 28 of Sotheby’s sale on July 7th (Part Two of their four-part Celebration of the English Watch), shows that Mudge was a creative a watchmaker as any.
The watch is the first, so far known, ever to have incorporated a perpetual calendar and is one of two that Mudge is thought to have made. While perpetual calendars had already been used in clocks for some decades (both Thomas Tompion and George Graham produced examples), this was the first in a watch and was dated by George Daniels to 1762, crucially putting it two decades ahead of Breguet’s Marie-Antoinette masterpiece. With thanks courtesy SALONQP specialist watches. Sothebys.