The term "skeleton clock" refers to any clock or wristwatch in which the internal mechanisms have been made visible. They are extremely difficult to make and must be superb in every way—a marvel of mechanical precision as well as a beauty to behold! Because of the intricacies of manufacturing a skeleton clock, their successful creation represents the absolute height of a clockmaker's skill. Many such clocks were crafted for display at international exhibitions to showcase a new technological innovation or as a special presentation piece.
This particular skeleton clock is one of the finest ever produced. Standing an impressive 28” tall, it was made by John Smith & Sons of Clerkenwell as a special commission. The beautiful timepiece was given as a gift to Joseph Norton, owner of the Highbridge Textile Mill in Yorkshire, in honor of his retirement. In fact, the clock still bears a silver plaque that is engraved “Presented to Joseph Norton Esquire on retiring from business by his Numerous Work People as a Testimonial of Their Regard and Esteem. May 1864.” The skeleton clock is designed in the Gothic-Revival architectural style, and time is accurately indicated on a silver dial with Roman numerals. Visible for all to see, time is measured using an exceptionally rare triple chain fusée movement and Vuilliamy-type deadbeat escapement. Meanwhile, a steel gong strikes each hour on the hour and eight nested bells ring every quarter hour—it sounds just as beautiful as it looks!
Recognized for their innovation and remarkable skill from the start, John Smith & Sons presented clocks at several international exhibitions, including the illustrious Crystal Palace exhibition on 1851, to great acclaim. Although the English firm has since ceased clock-making, its world-wide renown has failed to fade. Today, the beautiful skeleton clocks manufactured by John Smith & Sons are heralded as the finest ever produced!