The SIAR in Madrid, time for the return to Spain
La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud is returning to Spain on the occasion of the Salón Internacional Alta Relojería in Madrid, thereby pursuing the journey of the illustrious watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud.
Ferdinand Berthoud, supplier to the King of Spain
Ferdinand VI of Spain (1713-1759), third member of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty, made the development of economic trade in the colonies a priority. The King relied on his prime minister Zenón de Somodevilla, Marqués de la Ensenada (1702-1781) to reorganise the Spanish Armada with the aim of competing against France and England for the conquest of new territories while protecting Spanish maritime trading.
In 1759, the success of Harrison’s fourth marine timekeeper H4 in accurately measuring longitude at sea, followed by the development of accurate chronometers by John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw – produced in relatively large quantities – secured a leading position for England.
However, this success did not entirely win over the Spanish scientist and naval officer Jorge Juan y Santacilia (1713 – 1773), who reported to the Marqués de la Ensenada his concerns with buying chronometers from Harrison.
In 1757, he founded the “Real Observatorio de Madrid”, after participating in the famous Spanish-French Geodesic Mission in 1735, which resulted in the measurement of the arc and size of Earth at the Equator in Ecuador. His observation of the French researchers led him to report positively to Ensenada on the successful trial at sea on 1768 of the Ferdinand Berthoud Marine Clock n° 8.
Consequently, between 1774 and 1776, the Spanish government purchased eight longitude clocks from Ferdinand Berthoud. N° 7 to 16 inclusive were the first to be used by the Spanish Armada. They played a prominent role in the hydrographic and cartographic explorations conducted by Spain during the second-half of the 18th century.
The mathematician Vincente Tofiño de San Miguel (1732-1795) used Ferdinand Berthoud Marine Clocks n° 10 and 13 between 1783 and 1788 to achieve the detailed survey of the coast of Spain and North Africa, leading to the publication of his famous “Atlas marítimo de España, Madrid, 1789”.
These same Ferdinand Berthoud Marine Clocks were later used by Alessandro Malaspina (1754- 1810) during his second scientific exploration throughout the Pacific Ocean from 1789 to 1794, allowing the creation of maps of the west coast of the Americas , the Philippines, the New Zealand and Australia.
Ferdinand Berthoud did not stop at providing accurate timekeepers to Spain. He also proposed to the Spanish government to train local watchmakers, with the goal not simply of repairing and maintaining his clocks, but also of enabling their production directly in Spain.
Indeed, in 1788, most of the Berthoud timekeepers belonging to the Armada had to be sent back to Paris for servicing. Cayetano Santchez, a young student at the “Escuela de Relojeria de Madrid” who was recommended by the Count of Floridablanca (1728 – 1808), was sent to the master watchmaker’s workshop in Paris to learn the art of building marine timekeepers.
Sanchez returned to Spain in 1793 where he took over the maintenance of marine chronometers at the “Real Observatorio de la Armada, San Fernando (Cádiz)”. He was granted the title of “clockmaker to his Majesty” in 1798.
Even today, Spain remains an important destination to visit some of the most important marine clocks signed by Ferdinand Berthoud. We are therefore delighted to embark on this new journey that will allow Ferdinand Berthoud to revisit an intricate history of maritime conquest and all of its implications after the 18th century.
The SIAR in Madrid will be held from 16 to 18 June 2016. www.siareuropa.com