Collecting Time

A rare Omega Seamaster Automatic 1000m/3300ft Professional stainless steel cased diver’s bracelet wristwatch, circa 1970

Watches which tell the time with exceptional accuracy can be bought for very little and yet we have an enduring fascination with mechanical watches which continue to attract the attention of today’s collectors.

Amongst these are the diving watches inspired by the Rolex Submariner which was conceived in 1953 by Rolex board member and keen diver, René- Paul Jeanneret. He identified the potential for a diving watch which could also be worn every day.

The rare Omega Seamaster Automatic 1000m/3300ft Professional stainless steel cased diver’s bracelet wristwatch dates from the 1970s. The Omega Seamaster 1000 was nicknamed ‘The Grand’ by virtue of its 1000 metre rating and with a total run believed to be fewer than 500, it is regarded as a rare watch. The first ‘Grand’ was personally given by Prince Rainier III of Monaco to Jacques Cousteau, who was director of the Monaco Oceanographic Research Institute and Museum between 1957 and 1988. The French underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau, invented the aqua-lung in 1943. His underwater adventures aboard the ship Calypso would be made famous by the BBC television series of the 1960s and 1970s.Cousteau declared the Omega Seamaster 1000 to be his favourite diving watch.

In the 1970s Omega was viewed as being more revolutionary and professionally focused than the higher priced Rolex watches.

In the 1960s Japan’s economy grew at an extraordinary rate. It’s well educated work force moved from low-productivity rural jobs into modern manufacturing and services. The US and European economies began to grow post-war providing demand whilst prices for raw materials remained stable and Japan boomed.

Japanese goods entered western markets and began to establish her international brands. Amongst these was the watchmaker Seiko which quickly became recognised for its innovation, precision and quality. The company began to develop diving watches in the 1960s to compete with Swiss manufacturers like Omega and Rolex. The similarities of its style and design with its Swiss competitors is not accidental as east meets west.

A Seiko 6215-7000 Automatic stainless steel cased diver’s wristwatch, circa 1967

The 1967, Seiko released the rare reference 6215-7000 which featured water resistance up to 300 meters. The monobloc case had a screw down crown to protect the watch. It was a technically very complex watch and was produced in small numbers over about a year. It was the reputation of watches like this one that established Seiko’s brand which would come to dominate its Swiss competitors in the Quartz movement era that followed.

Despite their worn condition these two rare diving watches realised £3600 and £7400 respectively in Toovey’s specialist watch sales.

We have a fascination with handmade watches and value them far more highly than homogenous, mass produced timepieces. Interest, demand and prices continue to rise in this exciting field of collecting.

Reflecting Life over the Centuries

A rare Victorian silver novelty smoker’s companion, finely cast and modelled as a monkey riding a bear

Silver objects across the centuries have so often captured and reflected the society for which they were made.

Over time a delight in novelty has persisted. Dutch silver wager cups were produced from the late 16th century. The most popular of these were the windmill cups like the 1638 example you see here from Amsterdam which recently sold at Toovey’s for £10000. Its bell shaped bowl is decorated in relief with fruit and leaves. The windmill has simulated plank decoration and a dial above a miller ascending a ladder. Because the base was modelled as the sails of a windmill the cup could not be put down until the bowl was drained. Before drinking the contestant would blow through the pipe setting the sails in motion. There is some debate as to whether the dial indicated the number of beakers to be drunk if they failed to drain the cup before the sails ceased turning, or if it signified how many drinks were to be offered to the gathered company.

A mid-17th century Dutch silver windmill wager cup

Mr Punch has a special place in my heart. It was always a treat to pop in to see my Gran on the way home from primary school. A Victorian cast iron doorstop in the form of Mr Punch would welcome us as he held the door open and in the kitchen sweets were arranged on a silver dish for us to find.

A rare Victorian finely silver novelty Mr Punch mustard pot

It brought back fond memories to discover the rare Victorian silver novelty mustard pot, finely modelled as Mr Punch sitting cross-legged with pipe and goblet, a mischievous look on his face, and with the original feather handled spoon. Such wonderful quality of workmanship and design…that’s the way to do it!

Mr Punch was inspired by the Neapolitan character Pulcinella in the commedia dell’arte. Since before Victorian times the unreliable Mr Punch and his long suffering wife Judy (originally known as Joan), together with a cast of other puppet characters, have indulged in an often outrageous pantomime of familiar slapstick humour.

In the same specialist Toovey’s auction a rare Victorian silver novelty smoker’s companion was finely cast and modelled as a monkey riding a bear supporting two circular bowls with a wicker basket on its back. The monkey smoking a pipe/cigar conceals the table lighter within the detachable head cover with plumed helmet.

These beautifully worked humorous objects were made in London in 1870 and 1876 by Robert Hennell IV and realised £5500 and £5800.

Silver has captured and reflected life over the centuries.

These pieces illustrate the extraordinarily high demand and prices for silver collectors’ objects today.

Pousin and the Dance

Nicolas Poussin, A Dance to the Music of Time, c.1634-6 © The Trustees of the Wallace Collection

The National Gallery’s latest exhibition examines the importance of the early works of the French artist Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665). There is a visual and chromatic splendour in Poussin’s painting. Based around dance these paintings and drawings established his reputation. The show also explores the influences which shaped and formed this remarkable artist.

In 1624 Poussin moved to Rome where we would live for the rest of his life with the exception of a brief and unhappy period in Paris.

Rome, the seat of the Renaissance, provided the closest encounter with classical antiquity in 17th century Europe. The English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds observed how Poussin’s mind was naturalised in antiquity. Poussin had visited Venice and admired Titian’s work. Although, like Milton, Poussin would move to a more serious manner with a moral preoccupation there is an underlying vibrant Venetian poetry which seems to inform these early pictures. It is in Rome that the Christian and Classical worlds meet and both would inform his art.

Poussin would find an extraordinary vocabulary giving voice to the expressive potential of the human body employing new methods of composition. He would create wax figurines to choreograph the compositions he drew and painted.

Poussin admired the classical reliefs from ancient antiquity depicting dancers. They inform the cool, abstract, formal language of Poussin’s dance pictures which contrasts with the animated scenes which they portray.

Nicolas Poussin, The Empire of Flora (detail), c.1630-1 © bpk/Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden/photo Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut

The Empire of Flora is an early example of the artist’s dance pictures – Ovidian yet carefree. Flora the goddess of flowers and spring dances with a ring of putti. The mythological scene is played out beneath the sun god Apollo and his chariot. The figures are allegorical representing poverty, wealth and pleasure in a repeated cycle. Human labour, ambition and decadence are played out as the dancers move through the seasons of life and nature.

The exceptional painting A Dance to the Music of Time is set as Dawn scatters flowers in the heavens heralding both a new day and Apollo who is once again depicted with his chariot.

The hues of the dancers’ flowing garments heighten the conflicting sense of stillness and movement. The dancers’ steps are measured responding to the chords of the winged representation of Father Time. This poetic dance is unending. The light and shadows appear real rather than imagined.

Poussin’s patrons were as serious as the artist himself. The literary, musical and choreographic elements of A Dance to the Music and Time are informed by the poet-patron Giulio Rospigliosi (1600-1669), who would later become Pope Clement IX.

This beautiful exhibition offers a fresh perspective on this exceptional classical French Baroque artist and displays the visual and chromatic splendour in Poussin’s dance paintings. Poussin and the Dance runs until the 2nd January 2022. To book your tickets visit .

The Nation Remembers

The Revd. Rupert Toovey, Chaplain to the Royal British Legion, Storrington Branch, leading a service of remembrance accompanied by the local Guides

Next week we will once again reflect upon the costs of defending righteousness, freedom and liberty, giving thanks not only for our allies but also for reconciliation and peace.

Across Britain, Europe and America the common story and Christian heritage which unites us will be expressed in services of Remembrance and thanksgiving. In churches and beside War Memorials across Britain these familiar bidding words will be heard:

“We have come to remember before God those who have died for their country in the two world wars and the many conflicts of the years that have followed. Some we knew and loved: we treasure their memory still. Others are unknown to us: to their remembrance too, we give our time…With thanksgiving we recall services offered and sacrifices made…”

In Storrington the Royal British Legion are celebrating their 100th Anniversary and will be leading the local community in acts of remembrance and the Poppy Appeal. Each year poppies are sold to raise vital funds to help today’s Armed Forces community and this year in Storrington the Guides are assisting.

A short act of remembrance will take place on the 11th November at 11.00am in Storrington High Street at the Roll of Honour by The White Horse Inn.

Remembrance Sunday falls on the14th November this year and a service of remembrance and thanksgiving will be held at St Mary’s Parish Church, Storrington at 2.50pm uniting our community across the generations. The standards of the Royal British Legion, the Royal Navy Association and the youth organisations will be on parade as wreaths are laid at the War Memorial and during the service.

The Royal British Legion, Storrington Branch, and Royal Navy Association standard bearers, Des Knight and Richard Shenton

Families, communities and nations are bound together by their shared stories; stories of both joys and sorrows. Where these memories are embraced with open hearts they seed compassion, hope, empathy and a desire to work for the common good – something which our armed forces know intuitively. And our nation is once again united by the evolving story, the shared experience of Covid-19.

I hope that in the coming week of remembrance each of us will be able to find time to reflect, offering thanks and prayers for the courage of successive generations who have been called, and continue to be called, to defend the greater cause of justice and concord.