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Beethoven's Watch: M/P.1 & A & B-1929

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Beethoven's Watch


Watchmaker: Prior, George
Case maker: Unknown




Watch in silver case, with key, and dark mauve leather case, the white silk interior of the lid printed in gold 'L. van Beethoven's/Taschenuhr'

Movement: full plate movement with barrel bridge engraved 'George Prior LONDON 29815'. Balance cock, table pierced and engraved, lyre above the neck, horn, music and axe in quiver. Blued steel end piece and diamond end stone, foot engraved. Polished steel balance. Slide plate engraved. Silver regulator dial with radial Arabic figures, 10, 20, and 30. Barrel bridge engraved as above. Solid formed fusee iron post with wings. Polished steel case bolt with conical end, in slot in plate, rib under dial. Potance with moulding at end of foot, screwed to plate. Pillar plate with four turned pillars with rib at end. Recessed centre wheel. L-shaped third wheel bar. Three dial feet holes not used. (Hinge block loose). Minute and hour wheel crossed out in 4. Fusee and chain, one lip on barrel, set-up click under dial. High number train, thrid and fourth pinions of 8. Cylinder escapement, brass wheel. Train planted clockwise.

Dial: White enamel on copper, counter enamel, three feet. Ladder minute ring, dots at 5 minutes, and thick bars at quarters, vertical Arabic chapters, plain centre.

Hands: Gold, arrow head and poker.

Case: Silver, double-backed consular case. Profiled plain bezel with bright cut silver ring under glass (reduces size of dial aperture). Back plain profiled edge, plain back, the inside stamped with maker's mark 'A' above 'TF' combined, all in oval, and incuse mark 'VP' (? not clearly stamped). Body, ribbed edge, front opening reduced in size by plain ring, movement hinged to ring, back plain with winding hole, inside with marks too rubbed to read, possibly maker's mark incuse 'VP'. Pendant stem slightly tapered, top bulbous, stirrup bow with bulbous ends.

Storage case: Dark mauve leather covered case (B) with blind tooling frame and design on lid, two catches (one catch missing). Inside of lid covered in white silk with 'L. van Beethoven's/Taschenuhr' in gilt lettering, base with recess for watch and trough for pendant and key, covered in deep mauve velvet.

Key: Cast brass key (A) with three holes in handle and swivel top.

Legal notes

Given by Ralph Griffin, MA

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1929-12-14) by Griffin, Ralph, MA


19th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1800


The watch is said to have belonged to Beethoven (1770-1827). The maker could be George Prior of Prescot Street, London, who was working 1765-1810. The case is of a Continental design, and has been made specially for this movement. It may be as early as 1800. The movement is small for the case with a plain silver disc to close the case opening and support the movement, and a decorated band of silver fitted under the dial. All this suggests that the case was made to fit an existing movement.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Key composed of brass (alloy) ( cast) Height 35 mm Width 15 mm
Case Interior composed of velvet ( dark mauve)
Case composed of leather ( dark mauve) Depth 21 mm Depth 28 mm Diameter 59.75 mm Height 72.75 mm Length 108 mm Width 90 mm
Dial composed of enamel ( white) copper Diameter 42.5 mm
Movement composed of iron steel
Hands composed of gold
Movement, Case composed of silver
Top Plate Diameter 38.75 mm
Pillar Plate Diameter 41 mm
Pillar Height 4.5 mm
Storage Box

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: George Prior LONDON 29815
  • Location: On barrel bridge
  • Method of creation: Engraved
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: in oval

  • Text: 'A' above 'TF' combined, and incuse mark 'VP' (?)
  • Location: Case
  • Method of creation: Stamped
  • Type: Maker's mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M/P.1 & A & B-1929
Primary reference Number: 77467
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 5 January 2023 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Beethoven's Watch" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-24 20:26:53

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