King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, One of the Most Valuable Clocks, Could Fetch £2m

A clock made by the "Father of English Clockmaking", Thomas Tompion (1639 - 1713), can cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. But a clock made by Thomas Tompion under the comission of Queen Mary II can cost millions. Bonhams London is presenting The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, one of the most valuable clocks ever, in their The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks sale. It is expected to fetch in excess of £2m (US$2.54m). 

The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion

Father of English Clockmaking", Thomas Tompion

The "Mostyn Tompion" is currently at the British Museum

Charles II Ebony Table Clock made by Thomas Tompion

Thomas Tompion is one of the most celebrated clock and watch makers in history. He had created clocks for many royals, including Kings Charles III and Philip V of Spain, Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Cosimo III de Medici. One of his most famous and finest works is the "Mostyn Tompion" which currently resides in the British Museum. 

The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion

Queen Mary II of England (r. 1689 - 1694) and King William III (r. 1689 to 1702)

Queen Mary II in around 1690s

The King & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, also known as "The Q Clock", was made in 1693, under the commission of Queen Mary. It is a silver-mounted, quarter-repeating miniature table clock that accompanies the campaign clock Tompion made for King William III. The clock, which is numbered 222 in the Tompion inventory, is mentioned in the diaries of his patron Robert Hooke – the entry for Friday 16 June, for example, reads ‘Called at Tompion, saw K and Q clocks.’ 

Lion and unicorn heads were only allowed to be used on royal clocks 

The case of the clock is ebony veneered and enriched with silver mounts. These mounts are crucial to the story of the piece as they show lion and unicorn heads, motifs that were only allowed to be used on royal clocks. As this clock accompanies the King's Clock for King William III, the mounts are identical to those on the King's Clock.

It is uncertain when the clock left the Royal Collection. However, it is suspected that the clock may have passed out of royal hands as early as 1694, the year of Queen Mary’s death, or on the death of the King in 1702. Officers of the royal households were unpaid, and were by custom entitled to a share of the furnishings of royal palaces on the death of the sovereign. 

A gold pair cased quarter repeating verge watch by Tompion

In 2016, a gold pair cased quarter repeating verge watch made in 1708 - 1709 by Tompion was sold at Sotheby's London for £187,000. The auction house states that it was one of the earliest watch that he made. In 2018, a 1690s Thomas Tompion clock was hammered down at Hanson auctions in England for £200,000.

Apart from the King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion Clock which will be the star of the sale, Bonhams will also present other exceptional clocks and watches, including a Thomas Tompion silver pocket watch. 

A 17th Century Silver-Mounted Ebony Striking and Quarter Repeating Miniature Table Block, with Royal Provenance, known as the "Q" Clock, the Smallest Ebony Cased Clock by Thomas Tompion in the World. Thomas Tompion, London, number 222. 

Lot no.: 103
Created in: 1693

  • King William III & Queen Mary II, Kensington Palace
  • By repute one of the Royal Dukes of York
  • The case and movement probably separated by 1845, if not earlier.
  • The Case
  • By family repute purchased in France by the grandparents of Mrs F.S. Alston of Lincolnshire
  • By descent to her son the Rev. R.W. Alston, Curator of the Watts Gallery, Compton, Guildford
  • Sale, Sotheby's, London, 8 July 1949, Lot 62 (with associated movement) to Courtenay A. Ilbert

Estimate: in excess of £2,000,000

Auction details

Auction house: Bonhams London
Sale: The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks & Watches
Sale date: 19 Jun 2019|15:30