Exhibited at the 1862 International Exhibition in London, this framed set of watch seconds and chronometer hands was made by William Preston of Eccleston Street.
Before the introduction of the mass-production factory system, individual components were made by different specialist makers dotted throughout the town and then assembled by watch finishers. Prescot watchmakers were known throughout the world for the quality of their work.
The levels of precision and skill needed to make these watch hands is staggering.
Some parts were particularly hazardous to produce; the makers of gilded watch and clock hands were especially at risk as the process involves using mercury. An amalgam of gold and mercury would be applied the watch hand and heated, evaporating the mercury away in toxic vapours, leaving a smooth covering of gold behind.