Monday, November 05, 2007

Who is the Time Keeper?

"The owner bought this small, spherical pocket watch or Bisamapfel watch in the year 2002. Due to the absolute rarity, the curiosity was aroused and so the investigation and research was started. He asked the seller for the phone number of the first owner and contacted him to find out more about the watch. The first owner told that in 1987, as a watchmaker’s apprentice, he took part in a school trip to London. There, he bought for 10 Pound Sterling at a flea market a box with old metal and watch parts. In this box he later also found this small, rusty and defective watch, to which he did not pay a lot of attention. Only in 2001, he had the idea to get this little watch going again. He replaced two defective 5-pinions with 6-pinions on hand from another watch, as there were no 5-pinions available for such an old watch. But the watch also worked with the replaced 6-pinions. (One old defective 5-pinion was still at hand and was given to the current owner). An outer crown gear and the winding spring were also replaced. After the watch was intact again, he sold it to a watch collector, who later sold it to the current owner.
This gave cause for further investigation. It was established, that so far nobody had offered a pomander in an auction or anywhere else, neither an original nor a replica. Also, there have been no counterfeits.
5 specimens were only preserved up to World War II, some of which have been lost during the war confusions. After previous investigation, there is only one nearly complete pomander with clockwork from the year 1530 (Illustration 12) in existence apart from the completely unknown watch described here. This other watch has the following inscription on the bottom „PHIL. MELA. GOTT ALEIN DIE EHR 1530“ (Phillipp Melanchton) [translated: Phil. Mela. God alone the glory 1530]. This watch is located in Baltimore/USA (The Walters Art Museum). It is assumed that this watch was built by Peter Henlein, although no signature was found. According to this, there are only this completely preserved pomander watch described here and the pomander watch in Baltimore left over! Despite extensive investigation, there are no other existing specimens known. An empty housing can be found at the Wuppertal watch museum.
The watch was shown to a few befriended watch connoisseurs and watchmakers. The first impression due to the coarse inscription and the relatively bad engraving was rather negative. Nevertheless, these watch specialists needed to acknowledge that you can only reverse engineer such a watch if you have an original as a master. Even then, a reproduction would still be rather laborious. A complete replica without master would be impossible, and you still would not have harmonious wear and symptoms of old age. Furthermore, it would hardly be possible to make such a casing with the existing signs of aging. Should this watch be an original, the clockwork - due to its unique design (like no other portable watch has!) and with a complete running time of only approx. 12 to 13 hours – should be placed at the absolute beginning of the time string. Even Cochläus already writes in the year 1511: „So produces Peter Henlein, a still young man, works, which even the most learned mathematicians admire, because he makes from a little iron a clock with a lot of wheels, which, however you might turn them, show and strike 40 hours without any weight, even if they are at the chest or in the purse.“
There was the thought that this watch was probably also made by Peter Henlein. From the early 16th century, there are no other watch makers known, which could make small, portable watches."

The above excerpt is from some research my son did in preparing to write a research paper on Peter Henlein. It is very fascinating. The study of time and the history of time keeping boggles the mind. It made me think Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is an appointed time for everything. An there is a time for every event under heaven
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate; A time to for war and a time for peace.

No comments: