Oval verge escapement watch, c 1630.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This oval watch was made by Richard Jackson, a founder member of the Clockmakers' Company in London. The timekeeping is controlled by a verge escapement and balance wheel without a spring. The variation of spring as the main spring runs down is equalised by a fusee, as was the usual practice at this time. Watchmaking in Germany and France began in the early 16th century, but no English watches were really made before about 1600. 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.