The Repeater Pocket Watch

The Repeater Pocket watch, or Musical Pocket Watch, is a wonderful invention. You've probably heard a pocket watch or watch chiming in a most unusual fashion - its probably a repeater. The common tone is of a "Dong, dong, dong", folowed by a few "Ding-dong, ding-dongs, and then maybe a few "ding-dings" to finish. What does all this mean?

Well, its all very straightforward. The "Dong" represents the hours, the "ding-dong" represents a quarter hour segment and a "ding" represents a minute. So for example, 3.19 would be represented by "dong, dong, dong,(3hours), ding-dong,(15mins) ding, ding, ding, ding", (4mins). The watch described is a Minute Repeater. There are also 5-Minute repeaters that chime hours, quarter hours and 5 minute segments and also the Quarter Hour Repeater pocket watch that only chimes hours and quarter hours.

Minute Repeater As you can imagine, these types of pocket watches are fairly expensive. Here are a few examples. The first is a 19th century Minute Repeater by George Edward & Sons, London. This would cost you in the region of US$6,500.
5-Minute Repeater Next we have a very nice c.1870 5-Minute Repeater without a maker's mark. This is in really excellent condition and is probably worth in the region of US$4,000.
Quarter Repeater Finally, here is a very nice c.1846 Quarter Repeater signed "E J Dent - Watchmaker to the Queen," but actually made by the company of Nicole Nielsen, it is fairly rare piece and as such is worth in the region of US$6,000.

Prices for repeater pocket watches vary quite a bit depending on the maker, date and condition but I rarely see one, be it a Minute, 5-Minute or Quarter Repeater, less than US$2,000, and don't expect a particluarly good quality example for that money. Prices can go as high as you would ever like to pay, US$20,000 for a really good example with perhaps additional automaton complications.

All images reproduced with the kind permission of Pieces of Time

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