'Memento mori' watch in the form of a skull, known as the 'Mary Queen of Scots' watch.

Made:
1780-1850 in Blois

'Memento mori' watch in the form of a skull, known as the 'Mary Queen of Scots' watch.
The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers/Clarissa Bruce
© The Clockmakers’ Charity

'Memento mori' watch in the form of a skull, known as the 'Mary Queen of Scots' watch.
The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers/Clarissa Bruce
© The Clockmakers’ Charity

Watch signed Moysant, Blois. The large silver case is shaped like a human skull and is pierced and also engraved all over with religious and mythological scenes as well as quotations in Latin from Horace.

The mechanism, which includes a striking train, is hidden inside the skull. It has had considerable alteration and is now a conversion to lever escapement. The silver dial, which has two hands, is engraved with a scene of Saturn swallowing his children.

This watch has acquired an international reputation as the one given by Mary Queen of Scots to Mary Seaton, on her way to her execution. In fact it is one of three, first recorded in 1822.

The movement, revealed when the jaw is opened, is signed ‘Moysant, Blois’ but is probably 19th century. The case and engraved skull-shaped case is late 18th century or early 19th century. These fascinating watches were probably created as an early manifestation of the ‘Romantic Revival’.

Clockmakers Museum' No. 687

On display

Science Museum: Clockmakers' Museum Gallery

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Details

Category:
Clockmakers
Object Number:
L2015-3560
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), leather, silver (alloy) and steel (metal)
type:
verge movement
credit:
Lent by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

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