Louis Audemars, Brassus (Suisse), Case No. 11264, 54 mm, 151 g, circa 1870
A fine, heavy hunting case astronomical watch with perpetual calendar and moon phase Case: 18k gold. Dial: enamel. Movm.: bridge movement, gold train.
Louis Audemars The company was founded in 1811 in Le Brassus in the Jura Valley by Louis Audemars supported by his brother-in-law Meylan (after Meylan had started a cooperation with Isaac Piguet in Geneva - which would later be the famous company Piguet et Meylan). Louis Audemars married his first wife Julie LeCoultre and laid the foundation for the close friendship between the two companies. He had 15 children; three of them died, 4 daughters and 8 sons remained. The company specialized on the creation of ébauches but eventually began taking over the finishing work as well. Design and production were carried out in-house. The workmanship was second to none at the time and even Breguet recognized this exceptional quality by listing the Audemars movement number next to his own in the cases - there was no better compliment than that. Louis Audemars died in 1833 and his 8 sons continued the business. However, when the prices of ébauches began to spiral downward while the dealers' margins kept increasing evermore, the family made up their mind to start producing watches under their own name. In a surprising step the 8 Audemars sons decided to all train with different makers and learn all the different aspects of the craft. Around 1850 they returned home and began making use of their combined knowledge for the creation of their own brand. At the time manual work still played a decisive role in the production. However, development did not favour the Audemars. Around 1840 Vacheron & Constantin were the first to equip their factory with production machinery, closely followed by LeCoultre and other companies. In this Vacheron & Constantin were heavily relying on Georget Leschot, a mechanical engineer who had in 1825 created the base for what is today commonly called the "Swiss lever escapement". The new machines worked as well as the craftsmen but three times as fast, which of course reduced the purchasing price of the watches considerably. To counter this development, the Audemars decided to create watches which could not be made by machines; this was the hour of birth of the complicated watch and no other company but Audemars was able to reach such perfect coordination of design, precision and production. Planning for the Universal Exhibition of Vienna 1873 began around 1860; a watch was to be created which was unlike any other ever before. It was to include all complications known to man at the time. These included the "perfect" lever escapement, the keyless wind, 49 jewels and endstones (a first), the double winding system for two trains (another first), the independent seconds according to Pouzait with a second gear-train and a 'whip' whose end meshed with the escape pinion's leaves, minute repetition, a perpetual calendar with leap year compensation (once again a novelty), suspension lock for the gear wheel, hand-polished adjusting levers between the plates and gold gear wheels.
Estimate 7,000 - 12,000 €
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