Who was Thomas Tompion?

Who was Thomas Tompion?

"The Father of English Clockmaking"

15/11/2021     General News

Thomas Tompion, FRS (1639–1713) was an English clockmaker, watchmaker, and mechanician who is regarded as the "Father of English Clockmaking" to this day. Tompion's work includes some of the most significant and important clocks and watches in the world, and exceptional specimens may fetch extremely high amounts at auction. A plaque marks the residence he occupied with his equally famous pupil and successor, George Graham, on Fleet Street in London.

Thomas Tompion

Engraving of Thomas Tompion


Tompion was an innovator as well as a high-quality clockmaker. He was known for his meticulous attention to detail, design, and the use of high-quality materials. Throughout his career, he established an unrivalled international reputation, and his work is still loved to this day.


Tompion Sign Located on Fleet Street, London


He lived from 1639 until 1713, as the son of a Bedfordshire blacksmith. In 1671, he founded a shop near Fleet Street in London, and he was friends with mathematician and physicist Robert Hooke. This alliance was critical to Tompion's development since it provided access to royal patronage and cutting-edge technology. 

The Royal Observatory and Tompion
When King Charles II created the Royal Observatory in 1676, he commissioned Tompion to make two identical clocks. Both clocks were installed in the Octagon chamber, and they only needed to be wound once a year. They proved to be quite precise and were crucial in obtaining the right calculations required for astronomical observations.


Royal Observatory


Tompion also designed the conventional mechanism pattern used in English watches during the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as some of the earliest watches incorporating balancing springs.

As England's most distinguished watchmaker, his workshop produced around 5,500 watches and 650 clocks that are known for their inventive design and sturdy construction.

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