I have a particular affinity for escapement models. I remember the first time I saw one at watchmaking school – escapement engineering concepts that I had been wrestling with suddenly made sense. These scaled-up mechanisms are often employed as final projects at watchmaking schools, as they demonstrate that a student has learned how to apply escapement theory to a real mechanism that they built themselves. As intriguing as escapement models are, they are rarely seen at auction, which is why the large group of them in Heritage Auction’s May 26 sale deserve a close look.
Straight Line Lever Escapement Model, Parson’s Horological Institute
First up are five straight line lever escapement models with similar layouts, and very intricate engravings. Lot 56002 is engraved Parsons’ Horological Institute, which is likely where they all are from. Founded in 1886, Parsons’ Horological Institute was the first watchmaking school in the USA.
Albert Meyer Spring Detent Chronometer Escapement Model
Lot 56006 is arguably a clock, and not an escapement model. The layout is similar to other escapement models, and the escapement is certainly easy to observe. However, this lot has a complete gear train and motion works (the gears that move the hands) although the hands themselves, as well as the hour wheel, are missing. In addition, this lot utilizes a spring detent escapement and a helical hairspring.
William Gibb Clock Co. Early Lateral Lever Escapement Model, Ca. 1890’s
Lot 56011 employs the lever escapement in an alternate arrangement. Notice the difference between the lateral lever when compared to the straight line lever escapement models discussed earlier. The lateral lever is often used in tourbillons, as it allows the escape wheel to be closer to the balance axis, which in turn allows for a smaller fourth wheel module. In this escapement model it allows for a more compact model, presented in a square box instead of a rectangle.
O.E. Huefner Rare Table Clock With Karrusel, Detent Chronometer Escapement
Lots 56012 and 56013 are again arguably not escapement models, but clocks. These are not just any desk clocks though – they feature carrousel mechanisms and spring detent escapements. Carrousels are similar in theory to tourbillons, as they keep the balance wheel and escapement rotating when running.
Large Straight Line Lever Escapement Model
Lot 56014 looks like it may have been a demonstration model rather than a student project. Notice the adjustable pallets, banking pins, and guard pin, making for a useful educational device. The base looks to have a mirror finish, which makes the escapement actions even more visible.
According to Heritage Auctions, this collection of escapement models was put together over a span of 40 years. It is remarkable to see such a large and interesting collection come up for sale at one time. Portions of the escapement model collection will be available for preview May 24th-26th, with the sale scheduled for May 26 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
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