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Ancestors & Descendants of James Francis Helvetius Hobler  (1765-1844)   

Watches :: Time Pieces Hand Crafted by Hobler and Son

Jean Francois Hobler (1727-1794) (alias John Francis Hobler) was a watchmaker in the neighbourhood of Soho Square.  His workshop was based in Porter Street in Newport Market, London.  He migrated from Switzerland to London sometime after 1729 but it is not known if he migrated as an adult or as a child.  Subsequently this grey area in history makes it difficult to pinpoint when and where he apprenticed.  What is known, is that Jean Francois Hobler married in London in 1753 and began making time pieces prior to 1761.

Although he traded as a watchmaker, he does not appear to have been a member of the Clockmaker's Company, which regulated and maintained the art of horology (timepiece creation) in London.1  His son on the other hand, Jean Paul Hobler (1754-1795) (alias John Paul Hobler) was made an honorary freeman of the Clockmaker's Company in 1770.

"Watch and clockmakers felt under threat from increasing imports from the continent and so the Company decided to round up non-members, whose position or influence in society, they felt they might be able to use in their various political campaigns. Paul Hobler was one of them, and so he was offered the freedom."2

The Wakefield's Merchant and Tradesman's General Directory for London (1790) lists the pair as trading under the name Hobler & Son from 1776-1800 (note that both men died in the mid 1790s).  

Hobler watches were of an exquisite quality often blending Huguenot silver techniques with traditional watchmaking.  A watch by Jean Francois Hobler (Francis Hobler) was listed as a 1913 addition in the catalogue of the Dennison Watch Collection (the collection was sold by Christie's in 1961).  The watch does not appear in the Christie's sale catalogue suggesting that it may have been disposed of prior to the sale.6

Evidence to date suggests that Jean Francois Hobler signed his creations as J. Fra Hobler or Relboh.3  It is understood that Jean Paul Hobler signed his watches and clocks as Paul Hobler.4

According to Library records held by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (USA) Francis Hobler was listed as a master to Thomas Lewis apprentice watchmaker, St. Ann's (5 December 1761) and again as a master to Laurent Little apprentice watchmaker St Ann's, Westminster (14 May 1762).   Son Paul is listed in the British Apprentice Records 1710 to 1810.7 

Catalogue of Watches/Clocks

Ref: 1169
Crafted in 1786 by Jean Francois Hobler (1727-1794)

Hobler Watch (1786) Photograph  2006 John Krucher

Hobler Watch (1786) Photograph  2006 John Krucher

Hobler Watch (1786) Photograph  2006 John Krucher

Hobler Watch (1786) Photograph  2006 John Krucher

Hobler Watch (1786) Photograph  2006 John Krucher

Photographs courtesy of John Krucher (2006)5



1. Sir George White (Keeper) The Clockmakers' Museum, Guildhall, Aldermanbury, London ENG.  (March, 2006)
. ibid. 
3. Dennison Collection 
4. Baillie, G. H. (1929) Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World;  Hobler, Paul. London. 1770 CC. 1781-90. (gold striking watch); Hobler, Francis. London (Porter St.) an. 1761-90.  Also sold Relboh (Hobler reversed), Watch Dennison Collection. (source details courtesy of Ethan Kalemjian (Administrator for Metalwork) Victoria & Albert Museum, London ENG)
5. Thank you to John Krucher (USA) for his photographic submissions. (March, 2006)
6. Information courtesy of Mr. P. Buck of the British Museum (Horology), March 2006
7. Correspondence between John Krucher (USA) and Don Dahlberg (Volunteer) National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC)

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