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Exceptional Weight Driven Skeleton Clock “Brändl in Wien anno 1818”

Museale Skelettuhr mit Gewichtsantrieb Brändl in Wien anno 1818

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Vienna, 1818 (dated on the plate)

Anton Brändl (Brandt, Brendl),
Vienna, mentd. 1788 a. 1818
silver-plated and fire-gilt brass (ormolu), three silver-plated columns, base made of ebonized fruit wood with engine turned, silver-plated and fire-gilt plate (ormolu), original glass dome (height with glass dome 18 in.)
skeletonized with silver-plated leave-shaped cartouches with Arabic numerals
elaborately skeletonized movement with pin-wheel escapement, Viennese grande sonnerie on bells, repeater, turn-off for strike, mock gridiron pendulum with knife edge suspension duration of 3 days (striking movement 1 day)
15¾ in

The biographical information available on the brilliant master clockmaker Anton Brändl may be scarce, but the singular timepieces he created reveal to us that he was one of the greats of his trade. Among Brändl’s specialties were weight-driven mantel clocks, a sought-after rarity amongst the otherwise predominantly spring-driven Viennese mantel and table clocks. The renowned clock collector and connoisseur Hans von Bertele named Brändl, alongside masters such as Wibral, Rettich and Happacher, as one of the clockmakers capable of crafting weight-driven timepieces such as this to a high standard. Two of these rare pieces by Brändl can be found in the highly regarded Sobek collection in Geymüllerschlössel. Another weightdriven mantel clock by Brändl can be found in the specialist literature – we are talking about the clock at hand, which is depicted in Frederick Kaltenböck’s standard work “Viennese Timepieces”. The dial and movement of this elegant clock feature a skeleton design, a peculiarity that is to be found among very few examples of this rare type of timepiece. Skeleton or partly skeletonized clocks exhibit pierced dials and/or plates, are usually protected by a glass dome, and allow fascinating insights into the clockwork’s mechanism; considering that the movement was in full view, it was often realized in a particularly elaborate and time-consuming manner by the master clockmaker. This clock also possesses an exceptionally finely crafted case made of engine-turned, fire-gilt and silver-plated bronze. The structure, with three instead of two columns, connected by elegant semicircular arches, is also a special feature. The rear column bears the bell frame, which in reference to its acoustic function is fashioned in the shape of a lyre. Behind the skeletonized dial with a silver-plated, multifoil chapter ring and unusual, leaf-shaped cartouches, we can admire the motion work and the rack striking mechanism of the Viennese grande sonnerie. An engine turned and fire-gilt center is embedded into the silver-plated base plate; the oval weight sinks into this center. The ostensible compensation pendulum with engine-turned bob beautifully rounds out the optically appealing composition. Handcrafted by this outstanding master and his congenial, specialized cooperation partners, the combination of special, even dated clockwork with splendid case creates a true, museum worthy rarity.

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