The history of master mechanical watchmakers - J & T Windmills
About Joseph & Thomas Windmills
St Martins Le Grand
Joseph was probably born before the end of 1640/1650; however his origins are unclear. During the earliest years of his clock
making, he was based in St Martin's Le Grand. Not far from here he owned a house in Blow Bladder Street, a fairly modest building
having only 3 hearths.
In 1699, Joseph Windmills was elected as the youngest Warden of the Company. Meanwhile his son Thomas had completed his
apprenticeship and then worked as a journeyman, becoming free of the Clockmaker's company in 1695/1696.
Finest English mechanical clockmaker
The British Museum
Early Thomas Tompion watch
Joseph was considered one of the finest clockmakers in late seventeenth century London, and produced a prolific number of lantern
clocks of all sizes and qualities. His earliest known watch was created before 1680 and did not feature a balance spring; this is
his rarest watch and is displayed in the British Museum.
The development of the sprung balance by Thomas Tompion turned the watch from an ornament to a functioning, accurate timepiece.
Becoming mechanical watchmaking experts
The exact date of Joseph's partnership with his son Thomas is unknown; however from the numbers of timepieces produced it would appear that
the firm became even more prolific with the arrival of Thomas, especially in terms of watch making.
Joseph last attended Court at the Clockmakers' Company on 24th October 1723, which completed an active membership of the Court of
more than thirty-two years. After fifty-two years in the trade, he passed away in 1724. Thomas then took over the company working
at different times with four partners until his death in 1737. He left no children and was the last of the Windmills' male line.