Past Annual Meetings

2020: Time and Observatories

Owing to the Coronavirus situation, the 2020 AHS Annual Meeting, looking at Time and Observatories, was postponed to May 2021. The Society's formal AGM took place by video-conference on Saturday 16 May 2020.

2019: The Life, Work and Context of Alexander Cumming

The 2019 AHS Annual Meeting was held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, on Saturday 18 May. In August 2017, the Science Museum had unveiled the latest exhibit in its flagship Making the Modern World gallery. Newly on show was a pedestal barograph clock that was previously on loan to the Museum but had recently been permanently acquired with support from the Art Fund and Wolfson Foundation. It dates from 1766 and was made by Alexander Cumming, clockmaker to King George III, and is one of only four of its type known to have been constructed by the London maker.

After Cumming’s death the clock was bought by the famed meteorologist Luke Howard and used to make systematic observations that are among the world’s first urban climate studies. The clock’s exuberant carved mahogany case has been attributed to the esteemed cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale and displays the detailed craft skill that expressed the status of science in the 18th century.

The acquisition of this crucially important clock prompted the theme of 2019's meeting, which was the second in a series started in 2017 looking in detail at the life and times of celebrated figures in horological history.

The lectures were as follows:

Gloria Clifton, 'A Biographical Sketch of Alexander Cumming, Watchmaker and Mechanician, 1731/2–1814'

Charlotte Rostek, 'The Third Earl of Bute’s Patronage of Alexander Cumming'

Jonathan Betts, 'Alexander Cumming and Precision Timekeeping'

Rebekah Higgitt, 'The Metropolitan Science of Georgian London'

Peter Holmes, 'The Case for Chippendale?'

Alison Boyle, 'The Life of a Cumming Clock: Luke Howard’s Barometric Researches, 1814–1847, and Beyond'

More information is available to download here.

2018: The Legacy of the Massey Family and South-West Lancashire

The year 2018 marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Edward Massey, a significant and important inventor of a range of horological and nautical devices. Our 2018 Annual Meeting was a two-day event (Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 May 2018) based at the conference centre at Keele University in Staffordshire, and celebrated the contribution of Edward Massey and his family to the field of precision scientific instruments. There was a series of lectures across Saturday and Sunday morning, and an optional banquet on the Saturday evening.


Alan Treherne, 'The Massey Family: a Biographical Overview'

David Penney, 'Edward Massey and the "Liverpool lever" Watch'

Andrew King, 'The Masseys: Ingenious Mechanics and Inventors'

Will Ashworth, 'Innovation in Science, Technology and Navigation: the Role of the State and National Institutions'

John Griffiths, 'Precision Horology and High Quality Affordable Watches: the Essential Tools, Materials and Skills from South-West Lancashire'

Richard Dunn, 'The Massey Family as Designers and Makers of Nautical Instruments: Patent Logs, Sounders and Thermometers'

EVENING BANQUET with a special lecture by AHS President Patricia Fara, 'A Brief History of Magnetic Time'


Gilbert Kelling, 'Full Fathom Five: Timekeeping and Related Techniques in the Evolution of Modern Oceanography'

Paul Marston, 'The Legacy of Jeremiah Horrocks'

Michael Edidin, 'Massey in America: Liverpool Exports of Massey Escapement Watches'

More information on the meeting is available to download here.

2017: A Life in the Day of Josiah Emery

The AHS Annual Meeting held at the National Maritime Museum on Saturday 20 May 2017 looked in detail at Josiah Emery, using a remarkable record of a shop burglary as a guide to consider wider aspects of his daily life. The lectures were as follows:

James Nye, 'A Life in a Day: Josiah Emery, 33 Cockspur Street, 19 March 1781'

Jonathan Betts, 'Josiah Emery: the Watchmaker, his Business and his Clientele'

Peter Guillery, 'Shop-Houses and Built Contexts: Emery’s Premises and Environs'

Lisa White, 'Home and Shop: Interiors of the London Town House of the 1780s'

Roger Smith, 'The Immigrant Craftsman: Emery in London'

Jerry White, 'Crime and Society: The Legal and Political Climate in 1780s London'

More information is available to download here.

2016: Time on the Move, Time Standing Still

The 2016 Annual Meeting, held at the National Maritime Museum on Saturday 14 May, took a broad theme of time relating to movement and stillness. We heard the following talks:

Brian Durrans, 'Freezing Time? A Sceptical Take on Time Capsules'

David Penney, 'Mail Coach Watches'

Richard Edwards, 'The Invention and Early History of the Wristwatch'

Rory McEvoy, 'The Weems / Hour-Angle Watch'

Keith Scobie-Youngs, 'Catastrophe in the Tower'

James Nye, 'Stop All the Clocks'

A fully illustrated report is available to download here.

2015: Time and Transport

This year, the AHS Annual Meeting, held at the National Maritime Museum on Saturday 16 May, looked at time and transport. The lectures were as follows:

Peter Burt, 'Time for Exploring – a Brief Tour of the RGS Explorer’s Watches'

Tabea Rude and Erica Jones, 'Zigzag Control: Regulating Time, Movement and the Merchant Marine in Allied Convoys'

Rory McEvoy, 'Mind How You Perregaux: the Golden Campaign'

Lisa Jardine, 'Too Seasick to Wind the Clocks: the Hooke, Huygens, Moray Sea-Going Pendulum Clock Collaboration'

Jonathan Betts, 'Poles Apart! – the Mysterious Tales of Two Ice-Bound Expedition Chronometers'

James Nye, 'At 60 Miles an Hour the Loudest Noise in this New Rolls-Royce Comes From …'

Full details are available to download here.

2014: Time and the Military

The AHS Annual Meeting for 2014, held at the National Maritime Museum on Saturday 17 May, took the theme of time and the military. We heard the following lectures:

Konrad Knirim, 'Time on the Ground'

David Read, 'Time Management in the Frontlines of War'

Günther Oestmann, 'Towards the "German Chronometer": The Introduction of Precision Timekeeping in the German Mercantile Marine and Imperial Navy in the 19th Century'

Nigel Platt, 'The Clock that Saved Great Britain. The Story of the Royal Air Force Sector Clock'

James Nye, 'Bang on Time'

Full details are available to download here.

2013: Sixtieth Anniversary Convention: French Horology

Keble College, Oxford, was the venue for the two-day AHS Annual Meeting held on 23 and 24 March 2013, marking the Society's sixtieth anniversary. The subject of the meeting was French horology, and the lectures were as follows:


Andrew Crisford, 'Breguet's Inventions'

Michel Hayard, 'Antide Janvier'

Françoise Collanges, 'Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin'


Michael van Gompen, 'Hubert Sarton à Liège'

Ian White, 'Gustave Loup'

2012: Dutch Horology

This year, the broad theme for the AHS Annual Meeting, held on 12 May 2012 at the National Maritime Museum, was Dutch horology. Attendees heard the following lectures:

Sir Arnold Wolfendale, 'The Discovery of Cosmic Rays: the Role of Dutch and British Physicists ... and the Question of "Time"'

Hans van den Ende sr. and Hans van den Ende jr., 'The English Connection – The English Influence on Dutch Clockmaking During the Last Quarter of the 17th Century'

Michiel van Hees, 'Dutch Clocks in the 18th Century – a Split from the English Style'

David Read, 'The Marine Chronometer in the Age of Electricity'

2011: Precision Timekeeping

The AHS Annual Meeting held on 14 May 2011 at the National Maritime Museum took the theme of precision timekeeping, comprising the following lectures:

Sir Arnold Wolfendale, 'Twenty-First Century Timekeeping'

David Higgon, 'Precision Timekeeping: From Bürgi to Graham'

Jonathan Betts, 'Precision Timekeeping: From Maskelyne to Airy'

David Rooney, 'Precision Quartz Timekeeping in Britain, 1930–1960'

2010: German Horology

The 2010 AHS Annual Meeting, held on 29 May at the National Maritime Museum, was a joint event with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chronometrie (German Society for Horology), and took the broad theme of German horology. The lectures were as follows:

Klaus Schlaefer, 'An Early German Turret Clock'

Ian Fowler, 'The German Longcase Clock'

Andrew King, 'Harrison Pendulum Clock No. 2'