Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Breguet of Moss Vale

It has been a week since we visited the best clockmaker in the world and I still can't get over it. Deryck Noakes was born and raised in South Africa, but in the early 90's migrated to London to pursue clockmaking. In London, he had the opportunity to study and restore some of the most remarkable clocks by famous 18th and 19th Century makers. Very swiftly he established himself as a go-to clock maker of  high-grade, custom made clock.

I said it last week, and I'll repeat it again- Deryck is a mechanical genius with a rare ability to see in his mind hundreds of gears and levers working in harmony and then reproduce those images and motions in clockwork. Furthermore, he makes all the components himself in his workshop from gear and pinion cutting, down to making jewels, and hand carving of ivory.

Twelve years ago, Deryck and his family migrated to Australia and set up their workshop an hour and a half south-west of Sydney. This was the biggest gift Australia could have received. Ironically, Australia is yet to discover Deryck, a humble man, focused on creating masterpieces- not self promotion.

Whilst we spent over three hours with Deryck, our main focus was on two clocks only. The first was the planetarium mentioned previously, and the second- a regulator in the style of Breguet No. 3671 currently in the British Royal Collection. Deryck describes his clock as an 'in depth analysis time-piece built in honour of Breguet's genius'.

What makes Breguet's clock so special?

A traditional clock with one pendulum could be easily set and adjusted to keep perfect time, however in the case of even the smallest disturbance it would take hours for a regulator to restore its original rate keeping.

Over 200 years ago, Breguet realised that two pendulums working in harmony, swinging in opposite directions would influence each other resulting in improved accuracy in time keeping. Also, such a system, if disturbed, would return to its original rate far quicker than a single pendulum clock. Breguet's  No. 3671 was a practical realisation of the theory behind two synchronised pendulums. After his death, his Double-Pendulum Resonance Clock was acquired by King George IV, one of his long term admirers, in 1825, and to this day, it remains an inspiration to every clockmaker trying to create a masterpiece of their own. Deryck's double pendulum regulator not only pays homage to Breguet, but features three distinctive solutions that elevates the original design to the next level.

Aesthetically, Deryck's clock displays the finest workmanship one would only expect from the most skilled craftsman. With a case of flame mahogany, and fully french polished with true mercury gilded mouldings standing two metres tall, Buchanan No. 5 is a very complex, very refined, and technically impressive scientific instrument which would be appreciated by any sophisticated horologist. The No.5 was completely built in Australia and arguably this is the finest Australian made clock of all time.

While over the decades a number of clockmakers have attempted to create a 'tribute to Breguet's clock', arguably only Deryck has lived up to the challenge. It goes without saying that the acquisition of Buchanan No. 5 should be on a list of priority cultural pieces for the Australian Government to attain. It would be an irreversible loss if the clock was ever to leave Australia. Personally, I am not in a position to acquire the clock due to current commitments to manufacturing project but otherwise it would be an honour to call myself the first guardian of Deryck Noakes' regulator. Even partial ownership in a syndicate would be quite a special pleasure if it means keeping the clock in Australia.

If you are wondering why there are no photos of Deryck and his sons, I am respecting his wish to not publish any pictures of them.

To be continued...

(For further reading, please see the following link for more information on King George IV's collection of Breguet timepieces: https://www.timezone.com/2012/07/31/the-royal-collection-a-l-breguet-clocks-and-watches-by-jessica/)                       

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