The historical reasons for giving a street in Madrid to the original Puerta del Sol watchmaker

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José Rodríguez Losada, from León, known as the Puerta del Sol watchmaker, acquired international fame as a craftsman, so that distinguished clients such as Sisí Emperatriz or the British Crown itself attended his London workshop. Such was his fame that several writers of his time such as José Zorrilla, whose career he saved when harassed by creditors, or Benito Pérez Galdós they were amazed by his life and talent. The Canarian writer included the watchmaker in one of the National Episodes, “The July Revolution”, published in 1903. Then, simply, Rodríguez Losada disappeared from the memory of Spain.

Emilio Lara, writer, historian and collaborator of ABC, dedicated a novel to him in 2017, ‘The watchmaker of Puerta del Sol’ (Edhasa), with the aim of getting him out of oblivion.

“He was even famous here, but it happened as it has happened so many times in the history of Spain. This country is very forgetful, and more than a mother it is a stepmother », explains Lara. This Tuesday, November 23, at 7:00 p.m., the Jaen author will give a lecture on Rodríguez Losada, within the cycle ‘Madrid has History’, where he will advocate for the project to go ahead to put the name of the watchmaker on a street in the capital. The event will take place at the Casa de Correos and will also be attended by Antonio Perez Henares, coordinator of the cycle and president of the association Writers with History.

A high-risk mission

The Puerta del Sol watchmaker grew up in a family of cattle ranchers in Iruela, León, from which he escaped one night to prevent another beating from his father. Jumping through Spain, Rodríguez Losada ended up being a cavalry officer of the armies of Rafael del Riego and, ultimately, an outlaw when the Hundred Thousand Sons of San Luis liquidated the liberal project. In his flight from absolutist repression, led by José Zorrilla’s father, the young man from León found his bones in England. “He was self-taught, intelligent and observant, who started as a watchmaker at 34 years old without knowing a word of English and without a penny in his pocket,” he says. Emilio Lara.

Poster of the cycle 'Madrid has History'.
Poster of the cycle ‘Madrid has History’.

In London, the watchmaker became a reference, receiving orders from the highest spheres, which included requests from his native country. Although the Government of Isabel II decorated him and the Spanish Navy requested various marine chronometers, the Leonese only returned to his native country on time, in 1860, for work reasons. Precisely, staying in a hotel in the door of the sun, lamented the terrible state of the clock that had been placed in the building of the Royal House of Carlos III, then headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior. “Losada was stung by his self-esteem that the main clock in Spain was slowing down. That is why he decided to build a very modern watch and give it to Madrid on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. “

The craftsman who built the clocks of the Cathedral of Venezuela and Malaga and from the Cartagena Arsenal, he arranged without charging a penny for Madrid the most revolutionary piece in the world at that time. A clock that survived the passage of time and a howitzer that ended up in the tower during the Civil War, but did not explode. More than 99 percent of the pieces are still used today by Rodríguez Losada. The mechanism does not have any electrical element; everything is handmade. “It was the gift to Madrid of a dreamer who could be realized in London and who never harbored resentment against the Spain that persecuted him,” recalls the novelist and historian.

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