Ringing in the New Year



It’s hard to believe we’ve entered a new decade. I was quite chuffed when I noticed folks were referencing the roaring twenties. I hope that bodes well for what’s in store!

To ring in the New Year, I wanted to share a little piece of Seattle history from an era past.


Rummaging through the $1 record bins at my local thrift store I discovered an artifact from the 1962 World’s Fair, a recording of songs played on the Space Needle carillon. Audible up to 30 miles away, the carillon would ring out popular tunes of the period.

I have often wondered what happened to that carillon. In my search for information, a friend pointed out that the University of Washington now has a carillon (!!!). Installed in 2018 as a gift from Gordon Peek, this 47 bell carillon sits atop Kane Hall where folks can gather around and listen from afar. I haven’t yet been to see it, but now knowing it’s there, I plan to venture out for its next concert by the player in residence. Information on the carillon and a performance schedule is available here.

If you’re so inclined to learn more about carillons you can learn to be a carillon player through the North American Carillon School. This might be a fantastic career choice (no better time than a new decade to make a change!), as there are carillon playing residencies throughout the world. Check out Tower Bells for everything you ever wanted to know about carillons.

I’ve been working on some fun things in the shop that I would love to share with you, but unfortunately I am not always able to do so. Maybe someday I’ll be crazy enough to start my own museum so you can see how wonderful this world of horology really is, down to the smallest detail.

I hope to have a new schedule for classes put together soon for this spring so keep an eye out on the class page or sign up for the newsletter to be the first to find out!

And lastly, one of my favorite things from last year was this fun video I did for Atlas Obscura. If you’ve ever wondered what whales and watches have in common, enjoy!






The Magic of Horology 2/13

Hi All! The series is kicking off next Tuesday at the Stimson-Green Mansion. I’m very excited for Memoria Technica to start this partnership with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

I am not sure what the future of the series will be after this first year, but I can’t wait to find out how it progresses.

Come out and celebrate horology and heritage next Tuesday with us! Get tickets here.

For those of you who have already purchased tickets or a sponsorship package, please come to will call when you arrive. See you soon!

Lecture Venue:

Stimson Green Mansion

1204 MINOR AVE – SEATTLE, WA 98101

Doors open at 6:30, light refreshments will be available, and the lecture will start promptly at 7pm. Q & A to follow.

We ask guests to sign in upon arrival and suggest a $10 donation.

Old & New

I was recently offered the post of finishing the work I began on the 1765 George Pyke clock at Temple Newsam House I mentioned in a previous blog entry. You can read about it here.

George Pyke clock, automata, automaton, clockmaking, watchmaking, brittany cox, nico cox, temple Newsam House, Ian fraser


Unfortunately this old path is not the future path. It was extremely difficult to set aside my feelings of attachment to this project and the desire to finish what I started. As previously mentioned, three years of prep work, grant applications, research, and multiple visits to assess the condition went into putting the proposal together that I presented to West Dean. I owe so much to Ian Fraser, the head Conservator at Temple Newsam, for all of his hard work and support on this project.

George Pyke clock, automata, automaton, clockmaking, watchmaking, brittany cox, nico cox, temple Newsam House, Ian fraser


The reason my path has changed course is the following: I have been offered the opportunity of handling the estate of the late horologist Dennis E. Harmon. A friend of George Daniels, and a man who did everything in the old way, making his own pigments from scratch for his enameling work and grinding raw diamonds down for polishing powders. His workshop is painted with the original green paint from the (long closed) Bulova watchmaking factory. This man was one of the Greats and is missed by many. He is the best friend, tutor, and all around most amazing person I never met.

Dennis E. Harmon

Dennis E. Harmon

From what I understand, Dennis and his brother were a force to be reckoned with – traveling to auctions far and wide, buying up anything and everything horological. If the Harmon Brothers showed, you were out of luck.

His workshop includes, but is not limited to the following:

A Rose Engine

A Straight-Line Engine

Schaublin 70 + all accessories

Schaublin 102 + all accessories

Schaublin 120 + all accessories


Profile Projectors

Watchmakers lathes + accessories

Scientific Instruments

And everything else you might ever wish for you in your most decadent horological dreams

Here are some photos:

IMG_3208 IMG_3174 IMG_3195 IMG_3185 IMG_3231 IMG_3246

In addition there are old wooden tool chests filled to the brim, bulls eye crystals, industrial benches + light fixtures + cabinets, books, and more.
I have been hired to catalogue and sell off the shop. Stay tuned for updates and a catalogue that will be uploaded on an additional page with price lists and items for sale. There will be a series of onsite sales later this year. Get in touch if you’re interested, but more information will be coming soon. I will be relocating temporarily to the East Coast to handle the estate. I aim to return to Seattle by the summer with many wonderful additions to my workshop.
Today is day 1 on the job. Hello New York; it’s nice to see you again.

Mysterious Rochat Box Number “7.”

I have had the recent privilege of working on a very peculiar singing bird box by Rochat. So far my inquiries have not revealed any knowledge of this particular Rochat box.

mechanical singing bird, rochat, brittany cox, nico cox, nicole cox, automata, automaton, clockmaking, watchmaking, bellows, technology, conservation

Box lid closed & open

The 18k vari-coloured gold engine turned diamond adorned box houses three gilt mechanisms, including chain fusée and cylindrical bellows for the singing bird automaton, controlled by a stack of 8 cams, separate watch movement with centre-seconds, cylinder escapement, plain three arm balance, and musical pin barrel with a stack of seven vibrating steel plates, each with three tuned teeth. The front of the box displays the petite enamel watch dial enclosed by mineral glass and a split pearl bezel. The proper left side of the box opens to reveal the snuff compartment. A hinged panel located on the front of the box, when lifted reveals the watch face and five square arbors. A small pictorial engraving designates the function of each arbor. Levers on the front and back panels activate the singing bird and musical mechanisms. The box is complete with two gold engraved keys for operating and setting the complications. The lid bears the monogram of the 19th century Ottoman Prince Shehzade Mahmud Celaleddin Efendi (d. 1888), son of the Turkish Sultan Abdul Aziz.

The case was made by Jean Georges Rémond, an important case maker in Geneva, who supplied cases for Jaquet Droz, Rochat, and many other prominent automata makers of the period.

trade mark under front hinge sm

Trademarks under the front hinged panel

It seems possible to date the case based on the stamp of Rémond, as we know he was active from 1783 to 1815-20. He became a Master goldsmith on 22 December 1783, the first year during which he struck his Master mark. Seven years after, he appears to have formed a company: Georges Rémond & Cie., which eventually became Rémond, Mercier, Lamy & Cie. During the French occupation of Switzerland (1798-1815) by Napoléon, J.-G. Rémond’s recorded marks were in accordance with the laws of the newly formed Département of Léman. During this time his initials appear within a lozenge. From 1815 to 1820, the firm Lamy, Rémond, Mercier, Daniel Berton, used a similar mark, but no longer enclosed within a lozenge. It seems that Rémond must have either retired or died during this partnership, since in 1820 a new firm of Mercier, Blondel and Berton was formed. However this new company only lasted a further seven years, until 14 April 1827.

The stamp on this particular box is the four letters “GRCI” enclosed in a lozenge. Dating the box some time after 1798, but before 1815. Left of Rémond’s stamp appears the oval stamp of Freres Rochat “FR”.

Rochat box number “1.” is dated 1804 and there is some discrepancy about when exactly the Rochat family relocated to Geneva. Some sources maintain it was as early as 1803, others, as late as 1813. Either way, Rémond was supplying boxes to Jaquet Droz while the Rochats were under Droz’s employ. It is possible that even if the Rochat family were not yet in Geneva, a Rémond box could have been supplied for an early Rochat movement.

Box number "135."

Box number “135.”

The serial number on this box is found on the top plate. It is a singular “7.” unaccompanied by the Rochat stamp. It is very similar to other serial numbers by Rochat. If indeed this is number 7, the difference in style of the number could be accounted for as well as the missing Rochat stamp.



Other characteristics of the mechanism, box, bird and layout lend themselves to the idea. The bird is oddly shaped when compared with other Rochat birds. He is quite plump, with a small short head, petite beak, and full chest. Don’t get me wrong, I find him to be truly lovely – one of the sweetest birds I have ever worked with, but he is certainly different.

Bird emerges sm

Little Pan (as I call him) emerging from the lid

Here are some other Rochat birds in cases made by Rémond. In my estimation, most of the Rochat birds look like these –  slimmer body, longer beak, longer head, thinner chest….


I have found one other bird that is very close in style and appearance to Pan. The bird of Rochat box number “339.” The description of this box, written by the auction house that sold it, maintains that it is a very early Rochat, made sometime around 1810, but we know from the research of Sharon & Christian Bailly and Geoffrey Mayson, that box “339.” had to have been made after 1826. So if box number “7.” was made between 1789 and 1815, why are these birds so similar?

Box "339."

Box “339.”

In addition to these other oddities, the layout of the mechanism seems quite early compared with other Rochat boxes of equal complexity.

Box Panel Off sm

The closed front panel contains the watch and music box of box number “7.”

The watch & music mechanism

The watch & music mechanism

Other Rochat boxes with the same complications display a more elegant layout with a more robust musical barrel and striking watch work housed separately, the music in the main compartment and the watch under the front panel.


A Rochat box with music and striking watch


A Rochat box with music

You can also observe the difference here between Pan and these birds, though they are all three in cases by Rémond and have the same complications. These boxes are vaguely dated as well, circa 1810 or 1820. Unfortunately, there were no photographs posted of their serial number or makers marks for comparison with number “7.”

This is just a summary of a few facets of a truly complicated and rich story behind box number “7.” If it truly is box number “7.” it was made between 1804 and 1805. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to know. You can always reach me via email at bcox@mechanicalcurios.com

Now for your viewing pleasure – here is box number “7.” running after a long three weeks worth of work – don’t be fooled though, there is still more work to be done. And a lucky someone will have the privilege of listening to little Pan every day if they want to – as he will soon be up for sale in the upcoming December auction at Bonhams in New York.