A very rare Art Deco period mahogany cased dial clock by Negretti & Zambra
This small wall clock has a five inch silvered dial with a quality brass bezel and an eight day movement with Coventry Astral stamped to the back plate. Astral clocks were a brand name for a company called Henry Williamson Limited and the key motif with Coventry written to its centre denotes the factory in which it was manufactured. Other movements by the company were also manufactured in Salisbury and in Switzerland. These markings are therefore useful for dating this Negretti & Zambra clock because the Swiss factory closed in World War One owing to import restrictions and the Salisbury factory was destroyed by fire in 1909 wherein all manufacturing moved to Coventry. Prior to this date, only watch movements were made in Coventry so it must have been manufactured post 1909.
Owing to the world wide depression, the company was forced into receivership in 1930 and became part of the English Clock & Watch Manufacturers company, which was also bought out shortly afterwards by Smiths English Clocks. The brand name of Astral continued to be used by Smiths after this date but this movement dates to prior to the takeover. The date for this super little clock is between 1910 & 1930. Given the quality of the movements it is clear that Negretti & Zambra had outsourced the manufacture of clock movements during this period and were sourcing them from Henry Williamson Ltd and finishing them in their own workshops. Not an uncommon practice during this period.
Negretti & Zambra were a leading name in the production of meteorological and scientific instruments and have a company history dating back to 1850. Throughout their long and esteemed history they exhibited at British industrial fairs throughout and became makers to both Queen Victoria and Edward VII. Owing to changes in the business, the firm ceased the public retailing of scientific instruments sometime around the late 1960’s and continued with a focus on the aviation industry in numerous guises until its eventual liquidation in the year 2000.
A rare and interesting piece of Negretti & Zambra merchandise and an uncommon dial size for a wall clock. It has been fully overhauled by a qualified horologist and is complete working order.