The anecdotes

Anecdotes, stories and humour in horology

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Pages containing some anecdotes, more often ancient, showing the importance of the horology in the life of our ancestors. They are always true, surprising stories, relative to the horology


Contents: Click a title!


This is a short historical document which gives us an insight into the way of life
 of those of our ancestors who were fascinated by horology

The lanterne

(Extracts from Henri Béguin's personal diary, 1865)

We've put our comments or explanations in italics

October 19, 1865

Spent the night in "La Chaux-de-Fonds", at the "Auberge de l'Aigle" together with A. Monnet. This morning, bought a clock which cost me 190.- Swiss francs, to leave out a lot of my incidental expenses. Carried it home myself, as a child would, from "La Chaux-de-Fonds" to "La Côte aux Fées" (almost 50Km / 31 miles on foot). From "Les Verrières", very difficult journey, windy and rainy, and I was exhausted from carrying such a heavy load. Finally reached "La Prise" without misfortune and slept there.

 Neuchatel clock "grande sonnerie" in its lanterne

Neuchatel clock
 "à guichet" in its 
December 9, 1865

Nothing much of interest to report. Elise gave me a wedding ring a few days ago. The lantern (a protective wooden case for clocks, used in the Neuchatel region, see photo) for my clock has not arrived yet, getting impatient.

December 30, 1865

Left for "La Chaux-de-Fonds" this morning, to go and get the lantern for my clock.

January 1-st, 1866

Yesterday evening, came down from "La Chaux-de-Fonds" with the lantern. Travelled by rail, and during the journey, 3 panes broken, including the big one, most irritating. Mr Monnet very kind to me. Spent Saturday evening at his house, and on Sunday morning, he went with me to "Noiraigue". We walked all the way there, going through "La Sagne". (about 27km / 17 miles)




Ferdinand Berthoud and the Cattle-trailer

This adventure took place at the beginning of the year 2000!

I was asked by one of my customers to go to England in order to assess a magnificent and very rare precision clock (see photo) with equation of time* signed Ferdinand Berthoud, and worth more than 200'000 Swiss francs (about $US 130.000).

You need to know that my customer (I shall call him Bill) loves his wife very much; he also loves horses, horology, objects of art etc. Above all he has a great sense of humour.

This is the setting:

Once we had had a good look at this splendid clock, we negotiated its purchase from the English dealer. Since we had come by plane for the day, obviously we couldn't bring the clock home with us. So, Bill thought it would be best to go over to England himself, in his wife's estate car, to pick up the clock and take it back to his house in France. A few days after he'd made up his mind to do this, I got a phone call from him :

rare equation precision clock signed Ferdinand Berthoud


Bill :

"God knows how I'm going to cope with the Berthoud. It's 5cm (2 inches) too long to fit into my wife's estate car."

J.Duvoisin :

"What if you moved the front seat forward as far as it goes, wouldn’t that do it?"

Bill :

" Not, really, I'm certainly not going by myself. I'll be taking my wife; she needs a bit of an airing. We won't be able to push the front seat forward. I think I'll have to take the cattle trailer" (remember Bill keeps horses!)

J.Duvoisin (laughing) :

" Old Ferdinand Berthoud would turn in his grave to think that at the beginning of the 3rd millennium, someone could think of transporting one of his prize clocks in a cattle trailer!"

Bill :

"Don't be an arse, the cattle trailer's for my wife ! ! ! "

J.Duvoisin : (crying with laughter)

Thank you Bill, it is thanks to people like you that life is beautiful and our profession becomes truly fascinating.

Jacques Duvoisin

* equation of time : The equation of time is the difference between mean time and solar time.




Letter from a happy customer, received by Jacques' father, Paul Duvoisin, on April 1st, 1969

Bôle, April 1st, 1969

Dear Sir,

Allow me to thank you for bringing my old clock back to life. I am 82 years old and this clock is like an old friend to me. I bought it in 1932 in a fair in Besançon. It seemed to be working fine. I watched it carefully for at least ten minutes, wondering whether the woman who was selling it was giving a little nudge to the pendulum every now and then to make it go! I realized that she wasn’t doing anything of the sort, so I went up to her. She wanted 35 French francs for the clock. I tried to beat her down, and, as I'd hoped, got it finally for 28 francs and a bottle of wine worth 14 cents not 12, as she tried to make out. All in all I reckon the clock cost me 3.40 Swiss francs. The clock got into Switzerland almost unnoticed, though I had in the end to pay 9.40 Swiss francs at a customs post. One of my friends varnished it - the case that is, not the customs post - and it has worked perfectly ever since.

So, as I say, it is as if you had brought a good old friend back to life, and I thank you very much again,

Yours sincerely.


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