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Saturday, July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Americans landing on the moon!

Marking this anniversary should have been the buzz (pun intended) of the Western world, right?

Instead, people tweeted a variety of negative remarks:

‘Who cares?’
‘This country stinks.’
‘That’s all in the past.’
‘Did it really happen?’

Even one of the commentators on ITV4 who mentioned it during the Tour de France coverage said:

Allegedly.

That’s a sad state of affairs for such a great achievement, one which I remember clearly as a schoolchild at the time. So does a Fox News correspondent:

Commemoration at the White House

I was delighted to see that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump paid the great heroes their due. As Neil Armstrong has gone to his rest, his family were invited. Good call.

Mrs Trump knocks it out of the park with this one:

I will get to Hollywood and the moon landing further down in the post, but, for now, let us recall one of Astronaut Armstrong’s quotes. Who alive then could forget the ticker tape parade, televised nationwide?

Returning to the White House commemoration, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin was thrilled:

Hollywood’s take: First Man

I have not seen this film, nor do I intend to do so.

First Man made its debut in August 2018.

As China is buying up much of Hollywood, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) asks a pertinent question, given the revisionist nature of the film:

Cotton was not alone.

Conservative columnist Don Surber also made his views known:

Hollywood made a movie about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin going to the moon. It picked a Canadian actor to play Armstrong …

Then the movie omitted the planting of the AMERICAN FLAG on the moon.

That was the sole purpose of the mission.

This flick shows Hollywood is anti-American.

The House UnAmerican Activities Committee was correct. Communist[s] were taking over Hollywood for propaganda purposes …

This week, John McCain died. I remember that one of the things that kept him alive in Hanoi was the knowledge that we landed on the moon. OK, he thought it was seven months earlier than it was, but Hanoi fed him Fake News but let the truth slip that Apollo 8 made it to the dark side of the moon.

JFK inspired us: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

He Made America Great Again.

I was 9.

Reagan Made America Great Again.

Trump Made America Great Again.

Hollywood can go to China.

Speaking of Trump, Hollywood and First Man:

As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out, the movie seems to have airbrushed out the Cold War:

Breitbart had more on Gosling on September 1:

Explaining the decision to omit the American flag-planting scene, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who stars as astronaut Neil Armstrong, said that the landing “transcended countries and borders” and that it was a “human achievement” rather than an American one.

“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” Gosling said. “I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”

On September 3, 2018, Breitbart reported:

Last week, [director Damien] Chazelle dismissed criticism that the omission of the American flag was meant to be a political statement. “To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no,” the First Man director said in an interview with Variety. “My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon–particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours.”

Buzz Aldrin, the most visible member of the crew today, wasted no time in tweeting the historic photo of the American flag:

He had saluted the flag on the moon (look for his ring finger and pinkie):

The portrayal of Neil Armstrong rankled many Americans. Returning to Breitbart‘s September 1 article, fellow astronauts Aldrin and Chuck Yeager were not happy:

Aldrin indicating disapproval of the film’s anti-American sentiment would provide further embarrassment for its director Damien Chazelle, who has reportedly portrayed frontman Neil Armstrong as a “liberal progressive,” “anti-Trump,” and “non-flag waver.” When asked his opinion about such a portrayal, legendary pilot Chuck Yeager said that it would not reflect the Neil Armstrong he knew.

Yeager tweeted:

What really happened

On the 50th anniversary of the day Apollo 11 launched, Aldrin tweeted:

Even though the text is in French, those who were not alive for the ground-breaking, historic moon landing will enjoy seeing the many photos at L’Internaute, which bring back many fond memories for me.

This 20-minute film by David Woods shows the complete descent that day. Compelling viewing:

A NASA webpage features the video and gives us the following information. Yes, there was drama, too:

Explanation: It had never been done before. But with the words “You’re Go for landing”, 50 years ago this Saturday, Apollo 11 astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong were cleared to make the first try. The next few minutes would contain more than a bit of drama, as an unexpected boulder field and an unacceptably sloping crater loomed below. With fuel dwindling, Armstrong coolly rocketed the lander above the lunar surface as he looked for a clear and flat place to land. With only seconds of fuel remaining, and with the help of Aldrin and mission control calling out data, Armstrong finally found a safe spot — and put the Eagle down. Many people on Earth listening to the live audio felt great relief on hearing “The Eagle has landed”, and great pride knowing that for the first time ever, human beings were on the Moon. Combined in the featured descent video are two audio feeds, a video feed similar to what the astronauts saw, captions of the dialog, and data including the tilt of the Eagle lander. The video concludes with the panorama of the lunar landscape visible outside the Eagle. A few hours later, hundreds of millions of people across planet Earth, drawn together as a single species, watched fellow humans walk on the Moon.

Relive — or find out more about — the moon landing on a special NASA page.

Here are a few front pages. The whole country was buzzing:

If this were fake, would Buzz Aldrin and others be tweeting about it?

Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin

It seems Buzz Aldrin wishes he were younger so that he could fly to Mars:

Here he is making a visit to the pilots on a Delta aircraft:

On a more serious note, Aldrin — a practising Presbyterian — took Communion on the Apollo 11 mission, but the general public did not know.

A 2012 Guardian article has more (emphases mine):

Before Armstrong and Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin unstowed a small plastic container of wine and some bread. He had brought them to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church’s general assembly to administer it to himself. In his book Magnificent Desolation he shares the message he then radioed to Nasa: “I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

He then ate and drank the elements. The surreal ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine: “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.”

Not only that, Aldrin also read from the Gospel of John.

The public never found out until years later. This was because of Madalyn Murray O’Hair‘s objection to the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis:

Aldrin had originally planned to share the event with the world over the radio. However, at the time Nasa was still reeling from a lawsuit filed by the firebrand atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, resulting in the ceremony never being broadcast. The founder of American Atheists and self-titled “most hated woman in America” had taken on Nasa, as well as many other public organisation[s]. Most famously, she successfully fought mandatory school prayer and bible recitation in US public schools.

After the Apollo 8 crew had read out the Genesis creation account in orbit, O’Hair wanted a ban on Nasa astronauts practising religion on earth, in space or “around and about the moon” while on duty. She believed it violated the constitutional separation between church and state. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin explains how astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew operations, told him to tone down his lunar communiqué. “Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general,” he advised. Looking back Aldrin writes that the communion was his way of thanking God for the success of the mission. Yet, later he hinted that he could have been more inclusive:

“Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion.
Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists.”

O’Hair’s case against Nasa eventually fizzled out, but it dramatically changed the tone of the Apollo 11 landing. Aldrin had originally intended a much more pioneering Christopher Columbus-style ceremony on the moon. That was never to be.

Apollo 8’s Genesis message was delivered on Christmas Day 1968, incidentally.

Back now to Apollo 11. Aldrin’s home church still commemorates his out of this world Holy Communion, which was a beautiful way to give thanks to God for His Son and the successful moon landing mission:

at Webster Presbyterian church – the spiritual home of many astronauts – Aldrin’s communion service is still celebrated every July, known as Lunar Communion Sunday. Pastor Helen DeLeon told me how they replay the tape of Aldrin on the moon and recite Psalm eight, which he had quoted on his return trip to Earth (“… what is man that thou art mindful of him”). The church still holds the chalice that Aldrin brought back with him. Judy Allton, a geologist and historian of Webster Presbyterian church, produced a paper, presented at a Nasa conference, arguing that communion could be an essential part of future manned space travel. She claims that rituals such as Aldrin’s communion “reinforce the homelink”.

In 2002, Aldrin did not appreciate being poked with the Bible by an irreverent moon landing denier. Aldrin punched the man. Perth Now recapped what happened:

On September 9, 2002, Aldrin was accosted by conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel and a film crew outside a Beverly Hills hotel he was lured to on the pretext of being interviewed for a Japanese children’s TV show.

The footage shows Sibrel confronting Aldrin and demanding he swear on the Bible he walked on the Moon, calling the former astronaut out for being a “thief, liar and coward”.

“You’re the one who said you walked on the Moon when you didn’t,” Sibrel says.

Aldrin is also reported to have been aggressively poked with the good book.

The 72-year-old lost his cool and punched the heckler in the jaw.

Pleading self-defence Aldrin was let off by police on the basis of an absence of visible injury and a lack of criminal record.

Believers sided with Aldrin after the regrettable affair, though it could be said his heated response to the heckling provided grist for conspiracy theorists’ mill.

On a lighter note, in 2017, Revolution magazine, which discusses machines of all types, interviewed Aldrin about the watches he and his fellow astronauts wore on the mission. It also covered watches worn by astronauts on other Apollo missions. The brand of choice? Omega:

The Tribute to Apollo 11 45th anniversary limited edition is another phenomenal demonstration of Omega’s ability to thoroughly modernize its design language while retaining a salient link to the past. The watch is configured to evoke the ref. 105.012 Speedmaster worn by Revolution UK14 cover star Buzz Aldrin when he stepped onto the Moon in 1969. While Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon, his Speedmaster was left behind in the Lunar Module whose electronic timer had failed. Meanwhile, according to Aldrin, “It was optional to wear the watch [outside of the spacecraft]. Few things are less necessary when walking around on the Moon than knowing what time it is in Houston, Texas. Nonetheless, being a watch guy, I decided to strap the Speedmaster onto my right wrist around the outside of my bulky spacesuit.”

That’s right, he made a conscious decision to strap his Omega onto his wrist because what kind of Space Cowboy would be complete without his most heroic of timepieces? This made his Speedmaster the first watch on the Moon.

Wow. I never gave the astronauts’ watches a thought, especially with regard to the moon landing.

Conclusion

May we never say the moon landing didn’t take place or that it was an unremarkable achievement.

America’s moon landing was indescribable. People all over the world who were alive at the time remember the excitement and awe they felt that day.

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This is my final entry on Huguenots for 2015. All being well, I’ll have another series next year.

Until the 19th century, many English clockmaking firms were in business. The English, being scientifically minded (until the past 20 years), had exceptional talents when it came to inventing ways to improve horology and keeping time.

Unfortunately, tempus fugit and, with cheaper clocks coming from the Continent combined with the loss of the United States as an export market around a century ago, the industry has diminished.

Present day situation

Today, only two English firms exist: Thwaites & Reed, established in 1740 and operating near Brighton on the south coast, and a newcomer, Newgate Clocks, founded in 1991 in Shropshire.

That said, the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, established in 1631, still exists. It is the oldest surviving horological institution in the world. The Company’s motto is Tempus Rerum Imperator, Latin for Time is the ruler of (all) things. Isn’t that the truth!

Compared with the history of lace making in this country, no one argues about Huguenot participation in timepiece making.

The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers have a museum, created in 1814, which has the best of ancient and fine timepieces. Before the collection relocated to the Science Museum in the summer of 2015, the curator was on hand in April in the Guildhall location:

The Curator will be at the Museum for the most of the day on Tuesday 9th April and will be happy to answer any questions from visitors and highlight the Huguenot clocks in the display cases.

It is regrettable that the Guildhall and the Clockmakers were unable to arrive at an agreeable negotiation for renewal. The museum had its home there for 150 years. The Guildhall location closes on September 1, 2015.

The Clockmakers Collection is now on the second floor of the Science Museum and visits are free of charge.

Huguenot horologers

British History Online tells us that records of English clock and watch manufacture are thin on the ground. What follows is a summary of the article.

Were it not for the mandate to stamp gold and silver watches with the manufacturer’s name, we would know even less than we do. What is lost are the names of those who worked behind the scenes.

In London, clock and watch makers lived and worked in the City — the oldest part of London — and the West End, the political centre near the royal Court. Another watch and clock making centre was to the northwest of London in Middlesex.

The Huguenots settled in Soho (part of Westminster) in the West End.

The article states:

Some of the most skilled clockmakers employed in England during the 16th century were foreigners. Nicholas Cratzer or Craczer, (fn. 3) a German astronomer, was ‘deviser of the King’s (Hen. VIII) horloges,’ and lived thirty years in England. He was a Bavarian, born in 1487. Six French craftsmen were imported in the time of Henry VIII to make a clock for Nonsuch Palace. Nicholas Oursiau, Frenchman and denizen, was clockmaker to both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, and constructed the old turret clock at Hampton Court. (fn. 4) He as well as his two assistants Laurence Daunton of the French Church and Peter Doute of the Dutch Church, are returned as living in Westminster in 1568.

Many Huguenots involved in the industry were workers, not owners. However, their well-honed skills and attention to detail helped English manufacturers ensure quality products for the Royal Family, the gentry and wealthy merchants.

Notable Huguenot watchmakers and clockmakers

A few Huguenots owned their own firms and were very successful.

Debaufre

The Debaufre (de Beaufré) family settled in Soho in the 17th century. They were highly skilled watchmakers. Peter Debaufre’s workshop was located in Church Street and the company was in business from 1686 to 1750. Debaufre was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1689.

In 1704, he, Jacob Debaufre and Nicolas Facio (Faccio, Fatio de Duillier) were granted a patent for jewel bearing, the application of jewels to the pivot holes of watches and clocks.

Incidentally, Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, a fellow of the Royal Society, was a controversial figure. Although he was a brilliant Swiss mathematician with a keen interest in astronomy and physics, he became involved with the ‘prophetic’ Camisards around the time this patent was granted. In 1705, he became the ‘chief’ of this radical and violent French political-religious sect. Parliament suspected Fatio de Duillier of plotting against the state and, at the instigation of the French Church in London, sentenced him to be pilloried as a common cheat and impostor spreading ‘wicked and counterfeit prophecies’. He was nearly killed on the day by a violent mob. Afterward, he left England for a tour of Europe and Asia, returning in 1712. He died in 1753, near Worcester. But I digress.

Once the Debaufres’ patent was granted, they put a sign up in their shop advertising jewelled watches. You can see an example of a ‘Debauffre’ watch in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Peter Debaufre also devised a dead-beat or ‘club-footed’ verge escapement, later adopted and adapted by several other watchmakers.

James Debaufre joined the family firm in 1712. The business closed in 1750.

De Charmes

Simon De Charmes escaped to England in 1688. He was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1691.

He was highly successful and was able to build a grand family house in Hammersmith (west London), Grove Hall, in 1730. His son David succeeded him in the business. David died in 1783.

DiscoveringClocks tells us that the Huguenots (emphases mine):

brought with them many skills which enlightened and changed fashion and brought luxury items to the market place.  Furniture and clock-making reached their zenith in this period.

DiscoveringClocks has two photos of a surviving De Charmes carriage clock, neither of which I wished to copy here as the object is so rare:

It has a green lacquer case and the domed top is exquisitely decorated with polychrome floral sprigs set against a soft bottle green ground colour …

The case has four gilt metal flambeau finials and is surmounted by carved gilt wooden sound frets set below the dome; it also retains its original gilt metal foliate handle.  One can image how colourful it was when the purchaser brought the clock home, fresh from the workshop.  It has mellowed over a period of time but it is still strikingly beautiful.

Magniac

British History Online mentions Francis Magniac. His workshop was in Clerkenwell (east London) and was in operation between 1770 and 1794.

Magniac was a highly skilled maker of complicated clocks and automata.

In addition to his mechanical expertise, he was also a colonel. He exported many of his wares to China.

Magniac married an Englishwoman, Frances Attwood, who gave birth to their son Hollingworth in 1786 in Bedfordshire. They also had two other sons, Daniel and Charles.

Francis Magniac sent Charles to Canton to keep an eye on the family business interests in that part of the world. Charles established Magniac & Co in China. It soon became one of the most powerful and successful trading houses there.

To avoid too much commercial control by the East India Company, which monopolised British trade in Asia, prominent British businessmen there renounced their citizenship for that of another European country. John Reid, a Scot, was the first to do so in becoming an Austrian citizen. Charles and Hollingworth followed suit under Prussian nationality.

Amazingly, Reid became the Chinese Consul by appointment of the Emperor of Austria. Charles was appointed Prussian Consul and Hollingworth Prussian Vice-Consul.

Charles Magniac was killed in Paris in 1824. The Wikipedia article did not state the circumstances. Daniel took over Magniac & Co but fell into disrepute when he married his Chinese mistress.

This put Hollingworth in charge, but, by then, the company was rapidly falling into decline. The Magniac brothers knew Scottish merchants William Jardine and James Matheson well. Hollingworth appointed Jardine senior partner and Matheson also received a highly responsible position.

Hollingworth returned to England in 1828. He left his capital in trust to Jardine and Matheson. His former company continued to trade as Magniac & Co until 1832, when it became Jardine Matheson and Company, a Fortune 500 company today.

In England, Hollingworth married in 1827 and became a partner of a merchant banking firm Magniac, Smith & Co in 1835, agents for Jardine Matheson. When Jardine returned to England, the merchant bank was renamed Magniac, Jardine & Co.

Hollingworth died in 1867. He is buried in the Magniac mausoleum in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire.

Vuillamy – Swiss not French

My final mention here is of particular interest to me, as I occasionally have an opportunity to see and hear a Vuillamy clock when I am a guest at a private member’s club in Pall Mall.

Justin Vuillamy moved from Switzerland in England around 1730. He was already a skilled watchmaker and went to work for Benjamin Gray in Pall Mall. Gray was the clockmaker for George II and the Clockmakers Collection at the Science Museum has several of his specimens on display.

Vuillamy married Gray’s daughter and succeeded Gray as head of the business. British History Online tells us:

The watches made by this firm were of very fine quality: one of them fetched £120 15s. when the Hawkins Collection was dispersed by auction in 1895. This beautiful example had an outer case of gold and crystal and a diamond thumb-piece to press back the locking spring, the inner case being enamelled in colours with a garden scene.

Vuillamy’s son Benjamin later took over the business. He was a favourite of George III:

and much consulted by the king on mechanical subjects, especially in connexion with Kew Observatory.

His son, Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy, born in 1780, was the next head of the firm:

and obtained a high reputation for the exactness and excellent finish of his work, both in clocks and watches. Until his death in 1854, the office of clockmaker to the reigning sovereign continued to be held by members of the Vulliamy family.

The royal palaces and Windsor Castle have several Vuillamy clocks.

Elsewhere:

Among the public timekeepers made by B. L. Vulliamy were the large clock at the old Post Office, St. Martin’s-leGrand, and one at Christ Church, Oxford.

Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy also wrote:

several pamphlets on the art of clock-making; one of them being on the construction of the deadbeat escapement.

And:

He was a very active member of the Company of Clockmakers, of which he was five times master; in recognition of his services to them, the company presented him with a piece of plate in 1849.

The Vuillamy clock I have the pleasure of seeing is beautifully made, although without much ornamentation. The highlight for me is when it strikes the hour. The delicate chime is heavenly. I’ve not heard the likes of it before or since.

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