Description This is the earliest dated watch known. It is engraved on the bottom: "PHIL[IP]. MELA[NCHTHON]. GOTT. ALEIN. DIE. EHR[E]. 1530" (Philip Melanchthon, to God alone the glory, 1530). There are very few watches existing today that predate 1550; only two dated examples are known--this one from 1530 and another from 1548. There is no watchmaker's mark, but Nuremberg is considered the birthplace of spherical watches. In 2014 Scholars concluded that its characteristics are consistent with an attribution to Peter Henlein, responsible for this pioneering development in the history of the time piece and indeed in the history of the hand-held calculating device. So this is the earliest dated calculating device meant to function in the hand. A single winding kept it running for 12 to 16 hours, and it told time to within the nearest half hour. The perforations in the case permitted one to see the time without opening the watch. This watch was commissioned by (or was a gift for) the great German reformer and humanist Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560).
|6/01/2001||Examination||examined for condition|
- Philip Melanchthon's Watch. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 2000-2001.
- Touch and the Enjoyment of Sculpture: Exploring the Appeal of Renaissance Statuettes. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2012.
- Henlein-Uhrenstreit (Henlein Watch Controversy). 2014-2015.
- Luther! 95 people – 95 treasures. Lutherhaus – Augusteum, Lutherstadt Wittenberg. 2017.
Provenance Jacques Seligmann, Paris, by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1910, by purchase [For invoice, see Archives of American Art, Jacques Seligman and Co. Records, B-309, F-1, S-7, No. 690]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Transcription] Engraved on the bottom: PHIL[IP]. MELA[NCHTHON]. GOTT. ALEIN. DIE. EHR[E]. 1530; [Translation] Engraved on bottom: Philip Melanchthon, to God alone the glory, 1530
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1910
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