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British Horological Tour


Gregg Perry recently attended a 2 week Horoligical tour of Great Britain, Paris and Holland.


Royal Observatory   




The tour kicked off with the Antiquarian Horological Society’s annual meeting at the (NMM) National Maritime Museum in Greenwich England. The highlight of this day was making a trip up-the-hill to the Royal Observatory, where chief horological conservator Jonathan Betts led the group in to the laboratory where each of the members were able to examine Harrison’s H3 in pieces, with white gloves donned while handling the delicate components. Perry said "This is the Horological Holy Grail". The latter part of the session led to a climate controlled vault to examine the 18th cenyury Royal Astronomer, Nevil Maskelyne’s astrological jumpsuit, last worn in 1811, which has been recently purchased by the  conservatory for over 100,000 pounds. It will now undergo an extensive conservation effort.    



West Dean




Perry then traveled south to Chichester Sussex where the premier conservation university in the world lies-West Dean College. A classic 1840 English estate, situated on 5000 acres complete with vineyards, herds of sheep and magnificent classic gardens. The university offers graduate degrees in conservation, from stringed musical instruments to leather to horological masterpieces to name a few. Its resource library is the finest in the world, linked with all the major British museums.


David Thompson

DAVID THOMPSON CURATOR of the BRITISH MUSEUM (with cravat), and PERRY 2nd to his RIGHT


Perry and 7 of his English counter parts, held a week long horological think tank. Speakers included horological curators from all the major British museums which contain horological artifacts. The objective of the week was to lay down guidelines for watch and clockmakers who profess to be practicing conservation at the present time. The metals, wood and scientific laboratories  were opened up to the attendees so they could garner a better understanding of the latest technology, XRF, Mass-Spect, Infrared and electron microscopy. The journey then moved on to Paris; viewing 2 private morbier collections in the morning. After a wonderful lunch at Paul Bert, a tour of the Paris Flea Market was in order, hunting through all nooks and crannies of the labarinth, finding well needed original parts for on-going conservation in Perry’s Topton studio. The tour next landed in Amsterdam Holland. Precision timekeeping started in Holland, specifically the Hague. In 1657 Christian Heuygens developed the long seconds pendulum. Before this time, timekeepers were only accurate to within an hour per 24 hours. After Heuygens’ introduction, accuracy was within 2 minutes per week.



David and Gregg




The first step was the Hague Museum and Christian Heuygen’s birthhouse and studio from 1657-1675. Then on to the Museum of the Dutch Clock. This is the National Holland Museum and Perry was the special guest of the curator for this day. The museum featured 12 Heuygens clocks and 24 Dutch longcase clocks with marquertry and various forms of automation. Adjacent to the museum was a windmill, which for the last 200 years has been grinding painting pigments for the Dutch masters. The next train stop was the Dutch Silver and Clock Museum, whose collection is heavy in early provencial clocks. The last step on the tour was the British Museum in London. Perry was the guest of thr horological conservator of the Britiah Museum, David Thompson.