Edward East watch ca. 1685

Last updated on June 22, 2020

In 2018 I acquired a poorly described watch movement from France for a modest sum. It turned out to be from the workshop of Edward East (1602-1697), whom Baillie described as “the most celebrated of early English makers”. From the start of his apprenticeship to his death span over 80 years of clock and watch making in England, through turbulent social times and calamities (plague, Great London Fire, etc.). His output covered all techniques used during the 17th century, both before and after Huygen’s two great inventions: the pendulum clock (1656), and the spiral spring for watches (1675).

Shortly after acquiring the watch, I created what ended up to be a lengthy discussion on NAWCC forum where I shared photos and information on the watch, and obtained much feedback and insights from other forum members. https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/edward-east-watch-london-end-17th-century.151510/

This article will document my watch, in text and photos, and provide some context and history on its maker, his times, and some individual components of the timepiece itself.

Two excellent in-depth articles on Edward East’s life and times were published in September and December 2017 issues of Antiquarian Horology, authored by Valerie, Adrian and Anthony Finch. These fine articles (which won the Percy Dawson Medal in 2018) are available on the following Finch family website and are strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in this subject: https://adrianfinchblog.wordpress.com/clockmakers/edward-east-1602-c-1695/

Edward East, Clockmaker’s Company Collection, Science Museum, London England

The photo below is a compendium of three Edward East signatures. Top left is from an East watch movement in the British Museum collection (graciously provided to me by its curator); top right is from my East watch; bottom is from a plaque accompanying a clock that East donated to Queen’s College Cambridge in 1664 (see: https://www.queens.cam.ac.uk/life-at-queens/about-the-college/college-facts/the-buildings/edward-east-clock-1664).

Below are a few photos of my Edward East watch as I received it. The movement is missing the dial, hands, and case, but otherwise is mechanically complete and presently undergoing restoration.

Throughout the disassembly, cleaning, and restoration of this historically important timepiece, I have been taking numerous photos of component details, as well as measuring and documenting key dimensions of the various parts of the watch, and sketching them for future reference. The following sketches are examples of the measurements I am documenting.

Below are some photos of components taken during disassembly and inspection, before cleaning and de-rusting of some steel components.

Below is a video montage of some of the photos of my Edward East watch, saved on youtube.

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