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Tompion was born in Bedfordshire, England, where he was baptized in 1639. The son of a Bedfordshire blacksmith, Tompion established his business near Fleet Street in 1671. This is where he traded for the rest of his life under the name ‘The Dial and Three Crowns’.
He was an English clock, watch, and scientific instrument-maker who created novel mechanisms that propelled the watch industry forward .
Nothing is known of Tompion’s formative years leading up to his admission to the Clockmaker’s Company in 1671. He initially started as an apprentice before gaining his journeyman status in 1674.
By 1676, he was promoted to be the clockmaker for the new Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Remarkably, due to his sound business acumen and technical prowess, he ascended quickly within London’s horological community and soon became the leading retailer. Tompion was among the first to apply Christiaan Huygens’s invention of the balance spring to a watch rather than a clock.
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