A Highlight for our next Auction on May 6
Attributed to Ilbery, London, 98 x 58 mm, 113 g, circa 1810
A very fine gold enamel pocket watch with centre seconds, studded with agate, moss agate, cornelian and split pearls in museum-like quality, for the Chinese market
Case: gold, moss agate, cornelian, split pearls and enamel. Dial: enamel. Movm.: bridge movement "Chinese calibre", keywind, going barrel, duplex escapement, five-arm steel balance.
William Ilbery (circa 1760-1839) began working in London's Goswell Street in 1780 and moved to Duncan Terrace later. Influenced by the examples of James Cox in London and Pierre Jaquet-Droz in Switzerland, Ilbery specialized in producing luxury watches for the Chinese Market. At first he very much adhered to the traditional English style with its full plate movement and duplex escapement.
For later movements Ilbery took his inspiration from the Lepine caliber with free-standing barrel, as did Jaquet-Droz with the watches he signed in London and William Anthony in London. Ilbery had the cases of his watches exquisitely decorated by the best enamellers from Geneva such as Jean-Francois-Victor Dupont or Jean-Louis Richter. William Ilbery initiated the production of opulently engraved movements for the Asian market in Fleurier in Switzerland; other makers in Fleurier such as Bovet and Juvet followed his example.
Ilbery should therefore be considered one of the most renowned makers of the so-called "Chinese watches". Although he worked mainly in London, Ilbery kept in close contact with the trade in other countries; a watch signed "Ilbery Paris" is known and Ilbery & Son are recorded in London and Fleurier as well as in Canton.