Lot No. 85 (92nd Auction)
French, 33 mm, 32 g, circa 1785

A small gold enamel verge pocket watch with an early and rare ballooning scene "Montgolfière"
Case: 18k rose gold, engraved bezels, the back side with a polychrome enamel scene of a balloon ride over an Alpine lake, large lateral hinge. Dial: enamel, radial Roman hours, Louis XV hands. Movm.: full plate movement, keywind, firegilt, chain/fusee, three-arm brass balance, fine florally engraved and pierced balance bridge.

Historical tradition states that hot air balloons or their forerunners were used for the first time by Zhuge Liang (181-234) in China. During a military campaign he invented (amongst other things) airborne lanterns fueled by candle flame that were used as signals. His invention is still used in China today as a kind of fireworks display called Konming lanterns. The lanterns are unlikely to have been used for transporting humans or goods but functionwise they were a forerunner of modern hot air balloons; the main difference between the two versions is the size and the use of a frame in the lanterns similar to that in airships.
In Europe the story of hot air balloons begins with paper manufacturer Joseph Michel Montgolfier and his brother Jacques Étienne Montgolfier. They originally tried to power their prototype with steam but changed to hot air when they realised that this was much more effektive.
The records differ on the exact date but on June 7, 9 or 14, 1783 the brothers launched their first large-size balloon in front of an audience.
When King Louis XVI heard about this he requested that the Mongolfiers demonstrate their balloon to him. At the same time he ordered the Académie des sciences to conduct their own tests with the balloon in Paris.
Source:​er_Hei.C3.9Fluftballone, as of 10/03/2015.
Estimate  8,000 - 10,000 €
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