Early Adoption of George Graham's Cylinder Escapement

aucaj

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I am seeking a horology historical discussion on this topic.

According to Britton's "OLD CLOCKS AND WATCHES & THEIR MAKERS":
"After the expiration of Booth, Houghton, and Tompion's patent,
Graham devoted some thought to the cylinder escapement, which
in 1725 he modified to practically its present form, and introduced
into some of his watches. Securing to himself the monopoly of any
of his discoveries was foreign to his disposition. The reputation
which English horology acquired on the Continent during the eighteenth century was due in no small measure to Graham's candid
treatment of his brethren in the art in other countries. In answer
to inquiries, Julien Le Roy received from Graham one of his cylinder escapement watches in 1728 ..."

It seems that George Graham was freely sharing his design with other makers.

This movement is by Gille De Beefe (1694-1763). He settled in Liege in 1726, so the serial number 6 would date this movement to that year. It is a cylinder escapement made only a year after Graham first starting producing them. This brings me to my questions:

1) How quickly was Graham's cylinder escapement adopted by other makers?

2) Do you know of other makers that immediately starting producing cylinders after Graham introduced his design to the market?

Regards,
Chris

222.JPG 223.JPG 224.JPG 225.JPG IMG_5443.JPG IMG_5444.JPG IMG_5448.JPG IMG_5449.JPG
 
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aucaj

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Chris, very interesting, is there a chance of a better photograph of the cylinder.
Allan.
Hi Allan, I have attached a few more photos. I am not able to take photos of the movement removed from the glass case at this time. The glass case is comprised of three friction fit pieces. The movement plate is friction fitted into the larger half of the dome but there are no cutaways to allow you to pry it loose (see new photo). I can only assume that whomever made these cases wanted them to be air tight and did not intend them to be opened very often. Consequentially, many of these sealed movements remain in relatively untarnished condition.

Chris
 
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aucaj

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Third Question:

3) Is there a connection between Gille De Beefe and George Graham?
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Chris, I know nothing about Gille De Beefe having contact with George Graham, but it would not surprise me that he not only knew him, along with many other French horologists, including Julien LeRoy. The small biography in "It´s About Time" by Chamberlain tells it all. I think he also knew Sully.
When England and France were not at war, they seem to have got on well, and the political language at that time was French. Though a little later (1772) there is "The Life And Travels of James Upjohn " published by the AHS in 2016, which gives a wonderful impression of how people with money travelled and communicated with each other in Europe. Upjohn being a watchmaker makes it even more interesting. I am proud to say I was a subscriber to that book. By the way, Berthoud says the introduction of the cylinder in France came when Graham sent one to Julian LeRoy 1727/28.
I will now try to find out more about De Beefe,

Allan.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Chris, in Symonds book "Thomas Tompion his Life and Work" When talking about Graham, says, "Graham also made the geodetic instruments which the French scientist de Maupertuis took with him to northern Sweden in order to discover the shape of the earth" So the link with France thickens.

Allan.
PS. Have found information on Gilles De Beefe, but as yet only in German. I am still looking for an English version, if not I will have to translate. Nothing says anything about George Graham. Will keep at it.
 

Rory McEvoy

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Hi Allan,
You ask a really good question!! I have looked at a number of early cylinder movements by Graham and the earliest examples had locking mechanisms fitted to the cap with discreet pinhole to release the catch. I don't think that there were London or other English makers outside of Graham's workforce that implemented the cylinder during Graham's lifetime, but I confess that I have not looked for them before now. The cylinder escapement lends itself very well to stop watches and is fairly common in the 1760s with makers like Ellicott (who signed Mudge's work on occasion).
There's an interesting Scottish stop watch with cylinder escapement in the British Museum, which is said to date to around 1751-55.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Rory,
While you were writing the above I was trying to find information on this chap Gilles De Beefe. You would think that such a really good horologist of his stature would have been run down years ago and all would be known about his work. Not so. Loomes does have in his book, "De Beefe, Francois. liege (Belgium) b. 1718 son of Gilles de Beefe, q,v,. to Maastricht (Belgium) 1747-d. 1794." Then, De Beefe, Gilles, Liege (Belgium) early-mid -18c. That gave me the impression Loomes did not know too much about Gilles, so having gone through a pile of books in English, I could see why. So it's back to the German piece,

" Gilles De Beefe was born on Monday the 4th of October 1694 in Thimister near Littich. He was the son of Francios Clos polis De Beefe and Clémence Gilles Jamin. It is thought he had a brother Nicolas De Beefe who was also a clock and watchmaker, on Monday the 4 April 1712 in Thimister. Gilles married Marguerite De Stocquis. From this marriage it is though, were six children. Marguerite De Stocquis died on Wednesday 26 October 1695 in Thimister. Gilles De Beefe then married Marie Groutars, From this marriage were 3 children known. In 1726 he moved to Lüttich.

In 1726 Gilles had a contract too to finish the tower clock and bells (A Carillion) for the cathedral in Lissabon in Portugal. The King of Portugal Joao V. contracted Gilles in 1730 to deliver 2 musical clocks for his palace in Mafra. Gilles took the clocks in person in 1733 to Portugal. In old records, it is known that a nephew Jean de Beefe accompanied him to Mafra, Portugal, instead of his brother Nicolas. It is not known to this day why that should have happened. Also with Jean de Beefe was the clockmaker apprentice´s Joseph Croisier and Arnold De Neve on the journey. Gilles then returned home after finishing the work on the cathedral. In 1739. He was given by the Prince, and Bishop George Louis Berges the full contract, for clocks with seconds, and minutes without verge movements and that only he could make them in liege as well as the county of von Looze. Thanks to his discovery the Prince gave in 1740 the title of "Uhrmacher seiner Hoheit des Prinzen) (Clockmaker to the Prince)

Gilles was in 1752 was also clockmaker to the Saint-Lambertus cathedral in Lüttich. In 1754 His work on and for the cathedral was highly appreciated, and he was given letters of gratitude.

Three of his sons out of his two marriages also became clockmakers, Francois De Beefe, Nicolas Tilman De Beefe and Jean Francois De Beefe.

Gilles de Beefe died on Friday the 16 Sepember in Lüttich, 1768 at the age of 73.


It is known Gilles also made (Sold) watches, and being an educated man he would have known from others about the work in London by George Graham. Whether he had a cylinder watch or a copy of the escapement I do not know.

Still looking,

Allan
 

Allan C. Purcell

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mm-28.jpg


mm-29.jpg



There are more on the net, but here is enough to show he was not altogether forgotten.

Allan
 
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aucaj

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Hi Allan,

Thank you very much for such excellent research! It seems it was an active and very famous tower clockmaker. I appreciate you finding these examples of the watches by him. I was able to find some other clocks on non-English websites. I have included a link to a document showing one of the musical tower clocks produced by him. Please let me know if you find anything else.


R/
Chris
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Chris,
I found the above too, though my flemish is not good at all, but, I could have got the info in an emergency, it´s much the same as the German script I used. There is also a nice musical bracket clock on one of Dr Crott´s catalogues, the front that is, the rear plate you can see above.
I will let you know if I see more on Gilles De Beefe.

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Please let me know if you find anything else.
Chris, I tried to enlarge your photographs on the cylinder watch by Gille De Beefe, sorry to say they are not much better.

mm-30.JPG mm-31.JPG Though I think there are people on here that can tell you more than I can about the insides of this type of watch movement.

I then enlarged the top plate, and think here I did better, and from this photograph I have questions.

mm-29.JPG 1, Is the number six, and how best to date it. From the scant information we have, it must have been made when he was at Liege, (see above) and we know (If all is correct) that he moved to Lüttich c1726. 2. Does the number also indicate he was only just beginning with pocket watches? He was after all a tower clockmaker. (MMMMM so was Tompion)

Allan.
 
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aucaj

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Chris, I tried to enlarge your photographs on the cylinder watch by Gille De Beefe, sorry to say they are not much better.

View attachment 647852 View attachment 647853 Though I think there are people on here that can tell you more than I can about the insides of this type of watch movement.

I then enlarged the top plate, and think here I did better, and from this photograph I have questions.

View attachment 647854 1, Is the number six, and how best to date it. From the scant information we have, it must have been made when he was at Liege, (see above) and we know (If all is correct) that he moved to Lüttich c1726. 2. Does the number also indicate he was only just beginning with pocket watches? He was after all a tower clockmaker. (MMMMM so was Tompion)

Allan.
After reviewing your research and some other examples, it appears that De Beefe changed his engraving to add an 's' to the end of his first name maybe around 1740. And by 1750, I believe he was using some titles bestowed upon him. It is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions with so few examples known to survive. As a side note, Simon Decharmes' signature seems to have evolved from 'S. Decharmes' to 'Decharmes' to 'Decharme'. For whatever reason, he chose to drop the 's' from this surname.

The 'Temptation' watch was published by Sandberg and auctioned at least twice (2003 and 2011). It is estimated to be circa 1730 and does not appear to have a serial number, or at least not one visible from the few available photos. So, without further evidence, it seems plausible that the number 6 movement could have been made later sometime between 1730 and 1740. In fact, I believe Julien Le Roy was the known to be one of the first French makers to start numbering his pieces around 1725.

One thing that I think is interesting about this particular De Beefe cylinder movement, is the resemblance of the balance cock to those of Graham. It has a very distinct and detailed face engraved on it. Maybe De Beefe imported English balance cocks by the same sources as Graham?

I have reached out to two Dutch authors that have published articles on De Beefe. I will share any insights they may provide.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Chris, that could be really useful if they have more information on De Beefe. (They are bound to have if they have written about him) My point is if it's signed Liege, it must be before 1726 when he moved to Lüttich. After that, his work would have been on the Tower clocks and his travels to Portugal. All very interesting.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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I think this could help if I could only read it. Nice dates for the children though.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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I have reached out to two Dutch authors that have published articles on De Beefe. I will share any insights they may provide.

Hi Chris, sometimes the world is a very small place, today a movement I bought a couple of weeks ago turned up with the post. Nothing remarkable, the name on there is Francis Upjohn of London So I started the normal research, bot, in this case, I knew where to go, I also knew he was the eldest son of James Upjohn, and I had the book, or should I say Diary. At one time Francis was In partnership with his father, but in 1769 he left to open his own business in 1769. This watch I would say was sold by him in c1789. (Scratch marks under the cock) According to the diary Francis was in 1769 on the Fifth journey to Holland, and it was here that James and Francis Upjohn met up with at Maastricht The de Beefs family.

In this case, it was the son Gillies de Beefe. Franciscus de Beefe, his brother in Archen (the next place on the trip) was Andreas de Beefe (In Archen from 1761) You must get a copy from the AHS, there is lots more on the business of these families. It was business such as these that would have informed the dutch of the latest news in London.

ooo-9.JPG ooo-14.JPG ooo-11.JPG



ooo-12.JPG ooo-13.JPG
 

Brunod

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Hi, I just discover the post, I'm living in Belgium, french part, 10 km from Liège which is named Luttich in German and Luik in Flemish-Dutch.
So He couldn't move from Liège to Lüttich because it's the same town. Thimister, his born place is in Belgium too, between Aachen (Aix la Chapelle) and Liège. Maastricht Isn't far away either making a triangle.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Brunod, that's really good news, and just in time to make a small alteration above. Do you know anything about the De Beefe family, it could help.

Thank you for the information, I will watch out now, where I am in Europe.

Allan.
 

Brunod

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Here is a page in french (google translate can help you, otherwise just ask) about De Beefe. Everything was quite complicated at that time. The langage : french german and dutch (+ walloon for the common people and Latin for official acts), the names changing according the langage to write them (De Beefe, De beurre, De Beefve...
de befve, de beffve, de bef, de beef, de befen, de bevre, de beure, de beurre, de beur, de beves ou de beeve. With or without caps letter, and the same for the first name : Cloes, Clos, Close, Closet ou Cloese) + mistakes, the dynasty because it was a family clan counting 20 persons, the french revolution in 1789, the attack of Liège city by the French which destroyed by fire, after the cathedral Saint Lambert, all the wooden house of the city including all the archives... (So genealogy always stops at that time).
De Beefe was a location, a village and a small river : (Google Maps You'll see Thimister-Clermont on the same map view, under right. )
"La petite rivière qui coule à Befve porte le nom de ‘la Befve’. Ce cours d’eau rejoint la Berwinne qui se jette finalement dans la Meuse"
Our name are often coming from a location of our ancestors. My name is "Delsupexhe" which is a contraction for "From the Supexhe", a place a few km from where I live now. :)

 
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Allan C. Purcell

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A really great drive around Thimister-Clermont on Google maps, I must go there next year if all is well. Looking at the map it easy to see how close Liege is. and looking north to Archen would only have been a days ride on horseback, maybe sooner in a good couch on a good road. Upjohn's first trip took place in1765 and is last in 1772, these would be long after the early Cylinder watches of Geroge Graham´s watches, though there were many others travelling around Europe in the early 1700s. Still reading the book again, Upjohn was also the maker of those huge clocks by Cox. Really good story there.

R/.

Allan.
 

Brunod

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There is an old way called "Charlemagne Road", dated from Carolus Magnus (but it was previously a Roman soldier road 2000 y ago) directly between Liège and Aix - Aachen (not Archen at least now) and Thimister is on this road. (Route Charlemagne — Wikipédia)
If you come in the region there is also a very big American cemetery WW2 close to this place.
1623914119232.png
Belgium is a really small country, existing as a country since 1830 only, but with a very old history even mentionned by Julius Cesar.
Bastogne, Waterloo... Long history !
 

Allan C. Purcell

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. Long history !
Just a few lines to say I am not American, I was born in England. I now live in Germany, and I have t say I am only two and a half hours from Liege.
When we stationed in Germany many years ago we travelled through Belgium on our way to the coast, and then crossed to Dover, but all that changed when my parents moved up north of England to a place called Worsley between Manchester & Liverpool on the M62. So we then travelled to Hull from Rotterdam.

Thanks again for the info,

Allan.
 
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aucaj

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Here is a page in french (google translate can help you, otherwise just ask) about De Beefe. Everything was quite complicated at that time. The langage : french german and dutch (+ walloon for the common people and Latin for official acts), the names changing according the langage to write them (De Beefe, De beurre, De Beefve...
de befve, de beffve, de bef, de beef, de befen, de bevre, de beure, de beurre, de beur, de beves ou de beeve. With or without caps letter, and the same for the first name : Cloes, Clos, Close, Closet ou Cloese) + mistakes, the dynasty because it was a family clan counting 20 persons, the french revolution in 1789, the attack of Liège city by the French which destroyed by fire, after the cathedral Saint Lambert, all the wooden house of the city including all the archives... (So genealogy always stops at that time).
De Beefe was a location, a village and a small river : (Google Maps You'll see Thimister-Clermont on the same map view, under right. )
"La petite rivière qui coule à Befve porte le nom de ‘la Befve’. Ce cours d’eau rejoint la Berwinne qui se jette finalement dans la Meuse"
Our name are often coming from a location of our ancestors. My name is "Delsupexhe" which is a contraction for "From the Supexhe", a place a few km from where I live now. :)


Brunod,

Thank you so much for posting this information! I've ordered a copy of Eddy Fraiture's book. Do you have any idea how I might be able to get in contact with him? I noticed that the JSTOR has an excerpt stating "La plus ancienne montre de poche - encore connue à ce jour - de Gilles I de Beefe est une montre, signée sur la platine arrière : Gilles De Beefe A Liege no 3....". I have searched but I cannot find a record of serial number 3?

Kind Regards,
Chris
 

Brunod

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... Do you have any idea how I might be able to get in contact with him?
...
Here is his email : fraitureeddy(Nospam)@skynet.be
Remove the nospam from address and add a dot between the 2 e ;)
BD
 
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aucaj

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Special thanks to Brunod for referencing Eddy Fraiture's book "L'Histoire de l'Horlogerie Liegeoise Au Xviiiieme Siecle" published December 2020.

I received a copy of the book and it gives an interesting insight into the relationship between De Beefe and Graham.

The book describes Gilles De Beefe No. 3 and compares to George Graham No. 5453 circa 1737 (sold by Sotheby's June 6, 2017: 15,400 Euro).

Fraiture concludes what many of us may quickly infer from the photos.... Gilles De Beefe No. 3 was made by George Graham.

Beyond the obvious similarities, he presents the following evidence:
1) Both watches have center seconds. The De Beefe is missing the seconds hand but there is a gap between the hour and minute hands.
2) The case is marked 'IW' and has a 'star' punched on it. No photos given. However, the No. 5453 case is attributed to John Ward and has the same markings. There is also another 1730s Graham with a case by John Ward
3) The De Beefe No. 3 had a stop works at one time as does the Graham 5453.
4) George Graham is known to have produced examples for other watchmakers. Julien Le Roy requested a cylinder watch which was received in 1728.

Fraiture states that the underneath of the dial has '1732' inscribed on it and assumes this is the date of production.

I have emailed Mr. Fraiture and one of his colleagues at a Dutch horological society but I have not heard back yet. I will try to contact him again through his publisher. I would be interested to see photos of the back of the De Beefe No. 3 cock to see if Graham would have inscribed his serial number. I would also like to see more photos of the case and movement.

Gilles De Beefe No. 6:
If is Mr. Fraiture is correct on the 1732 date for number 3, I would have to assume that number 6 was made shortly after in the same year. It is known that Gilles De Beefe settled in Liège in 1726 but in 1733 the King of Portugal commissioned him to build two clocks with carillon for the Palácio Nacional de Mafra and De Beefe also created the bells for the cathedral of Lisbon. There are records that De Beefe had returned to Liege by 1738.

I don't believe George Graham made Gilles De Beefe No. 6. I think it is probable that number 6 is an early cylinder produced by Gilles De Beefe's after having received the example from George Graham.


- Does anyone know of any other cylinder watches that George Graham produced for other watchmakers who applied their signatures? We know this was common practice among watchmakers.

1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,
I don't believe George Graham made Gilles De Beefe No. 6. I think it is probable that number 6 is an early cylinder produced by Gilles De Beefe's after having received the example from George Graham.
I'm pretty certain you're right about that; it looks nothing like Graham's work in any respect. It's unfortunate that you can't examine it out of that case, because then you could remove the balance cock to see whether there's a serial number under the foot, and also have a close look at the balance spring stud, because most unusually, Graham used a square section pin in the stud of his watches, like this early verge of his.

DSCF8358.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 
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aucaj

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Graham used a square section pin in the stud of his watches, like this early verge of his.
Hi Graham,

That is an interesting detail about Graham. Is there a particular advantage to using square pins? I do notice that when pinning the balance springs sometimes the spiral of the spring tries to shift out of plane. Do you think the square pins helped to prevent this trouble?

Whomever put these movements in those display cases did not provide features for disassembly, but I have managed to get some of them apart. It would be interesting to inspect the De Beefe in more detail. I will carefully attempt to get it out. The brass plate and dome rim are pressed together with a friction fit. Do you think watch oil is best for trying to lubricate the plates to separate them? What would you suggest?

Kind Regards,
Chris
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,
Is there a particular advantage to using square pins?
A round taper pin in a round hole tends to force the spring into the same contour, giving it a curve across its width which in turn stiffens it lengthwise and can also cause the effect you mention. Even a flat filed on one side of the pin doesn't altogether avoid this effect, but a square pin in a square hole does. If the spring is true in the flat and in the round it should sit in the correct position without any further adjustment.

The case may well come apart if you carefully twist the dome slightly whilst pulling gently.

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

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There are three parts. The dome, the bottom dome with brass rim, and the middle plate with the movement. The dome comes off easily. The middle plate fits flush within the rim of the bottom dome. It would be easy if there were two areas milled out in the rim to allow for a screwdriver to pry them apart. I was able to get some of these cases to break free by putting a key on the fusee arbor and applying some lateral force, but I'm afraid this risks damaging them.

IMG_5444.JPG
 

aucaj

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Graham,

I was able to get the case open. There is not any inscription under the cock or the dial.

R/
Chris

1.JPG
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,

Thanks for doing that, but it does reinforce the proposition that Graham didn't make this.

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

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I hope to get in contact with Mr. Fraiture to further discuss his De Beefe No. 3 by Graham and my No. 6 by De Beefe. It would be interesting to pair these watches together. They show how Graham's cylinder was adopted in 1732 by one of Belgium's most famous makers.
 

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