Oval alarm watch, French, early 17th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This oval alarm watch is typical of the early 17th century and was made by Andre Pichon of Lyon, France. In the centre of the dial is a bras disc carrying a steel pointer which acts as the hour-hand, indicating time on the outer circle of hours numbered I to XII. The alarm is set by means of the plain steel hand indicating on the inner circle numbered 1 to 12. Watchmaking in Germany and France began early in the 16th century. These early watches were usually in the form of circular drums, and the oval form did not come into fashion until the early 17th century. Watches of this type were usually suspended from a chain or cord slung around the neck, rather than carried in the pocket. The timekeeping is controlled by a verge escapement .