|"Wooden Watch – Sautrog Escapement"
Attributable to M.S. Bronnikoff, Vjatka,
Russian. Made circa 1870.
Very fine and extremely rare, hunting-cased pocket watch
made entirely of box-wood and bone, with “sautrog” escapement
and original fitted wooden box and wood and brass key.
|C. Three-body, box-wood, hinged back and front covers with
ring-turned decoration. D. Wooden with Arabic numerals on
bone cartouches and subsidiary seconds. Bone hands. M. Entirely
made of wood except for the balance spring and pivots,
with going barrel, “sautrog” escapement, plain wood three-arm
balance, the balance staff made of bone.
Diam. 58 mm.
|Estimate: 16,000 CHF - 20,000 CHF
Estimate: 10,000 EUR - 13,000 EUR
Estimate: 13,000 USD - 16,000 USD
|This is a particularly large and well preserved example of a Bronnikoff
type watch with the original outer protective box. The
escapement is particularly unusual and is known as “sautrog”
(pig’s trough). It is a hybrid of the duplex and cylinder escapements,
the escape wheel is very similar to a duplex escape wheel but acts
against a bone balance staff very similar to that of a cylinder
escapement. To our best knowledge no other examples of watches
with the “sautrog” escapement have appeared at auction. The name
of the escapement derives from the “trough” shaped recess in the
A family living in Vjatka, Russia, which specialized in the making of
all-wood and all-ivory watches. The first recorded member of the family
was Ivan Bronnikov (c. 1770 - 1860), a skillful joiner and turner.
Upon the occasion of an exhibition in 1837, the Vjatka Industrial Town
Council asked Ivan to exhibit some objects of his making. He refused,
saying that he was too old, but his son, Semyon Ivanovitch (1800 -
1875) would contribute "some small thing". This turned out to be a
pocket watch entirely carved out of wood, which greatly impressed
everyone. It is said that the future czar Alexander II purchased the
watch. Encouraged by this success, Semyon continued the manufacture
of wood and ivory watches.
Semyon had seven sons. Of them, Mikhail Semyonovitch and Nicolai
Semyonovitch continued his work, as did Mikhail's son Nicolai
Mikhailovitch, who was the last watchmaker in the family. Nicolai
Mikhailovitch left Vjatka for Moscow in 1909 or 1910 and is said to
have worked there for the firm of Paul Boure. The Bronnikovs showed
their watches at local exhibitions and in Moscow. In 1867 the Russian
Ministry of Internal Affairs ordered two pairs of watches. An Honor
Prize was won for wood and ivory watches at the St. Petersburg Exhibition
In 1873, the Bronnikovs took part in the International Exhibition in
Vienna, and in 1896 Mikhail Semyonovitch won a silver medal for a
palm-wood watch with palm-wood chain that he showed at the All-
Russian Industrial Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod. In 1900 Bronnikov
watches were sent to the Paris International Exhibition. In 1902 Nicolai
Mikhailovitch exhibited a birchwood watch at the All-Russian Exhibition
in St. Petersburg. The clockwork parts were made of various
woods, including walnut, honeysuckle, boxwood, and hardened
bamboo; the cases from birchwood, or boxwood, and the dials were
often decorated with ivory or mother-of-pearl. Bronnikov watches feature
an unusual type of construction: instead of the wheels being
installed between two plates as is usually the case, the dial serves as
the pillar plate, and is also an integral part of the case. These watches
were not intended for everyday use but rather as expensive and rare
souvenirs. This was not the first use of wood as applied to watch mechanisms,
however: the Russian mechanician Kulibin used wood for
some parts of his clocks and "pendulum watches". Skorodumov, a
peasant of the Burga village in the Novgorod region, also used wood as
the main material for his watches. As to the number of Bronnikov
watches produced, it seems likely that the three watchmaking generations
of the Bronnikov family may have made some 500 watches.
The number of surviving Bronnikov watches has been estimated at
approximately 250. Although many - but not all - Bronnikov watches
are signed, they do not always bear the maker’s initials, which often
makes it difficult to determine which Bronnikov made the watch.
The signature is carved on the inside of the back cover.
In Russia, Bronnikov watches are found in the collections of the
Moscow Kremlin Armory, the Hermitage, the Moscow Clock Industry
Research Institute, the Tbilisi Museum of People's Art, the Physics and
Math Salon of Dresden, in museums in Vjatka, Slobodskoi, Veliky
Ustyug, Cherepovets, and in private collections in Moscow, Angarsk,
Zlatoust, and Irkutsk. Known signatures include "M.S. Bronnikov in
Vjatka", "The Bronnikov Brothers in Vjatka", and "N.M. Bronnikov in
Literature: "The Bronnikov Dynasty" by Theodore R. Crom, NAWCC
Bulletin Vol. 43/6 No. 335, December 2001.
|Important Collectors’ Wristwatches, Pocket Watches & Clocks