Attributed to Piguet & Meylan à Brassus, 58 mm, 188 g, circa 1820
A gentleman’s heavy and gorgeous gold enamel pocket watch set with half pearls, with musical movement playing on the hour, six automata "à quatre couleurs"; produced for the Chinese market Case: 18k rose gold, back with wonderful delicate polychrome medallion showing a bouquet of summer flowers against an apple green background, slider for music on/off; corresponding decoration on the band with translucent blue and red flowers and opaque white and gold tendrils against an opaque apple green background. Bezels on each side as well as pendant and lug set with half pearls. Dome with very fine polychrome enamel painting under glass with five mounted automata in four-colour gold: a garden next to a water mill with a shepherd boy playing panpipes at a stream with flowing water and a drinking dog. A spinning shepherdess drives the moving wheel with her foot. In the background is a mill and farm buildings on a river against an alpine background. Dial: enamel. Movm.: highly complex bridge movement, keywind, frosted, gilt, 2 going barrels, cylinder escapement, three-arm gold ring balance, musical movement with tuned vibrating blades.
J.D. Piguet et S. Meylan à Genève Piguet was an expert craftsman who produced his watches in partnership with Henry Capt and Philippe Samuel Meylan, and later also with his sons. Philippe Samuel Meylan came to Geneva at the age of 20 to work for Louis Audemars & Cie. He opened his own workshop near Le Brassus in 1811, but returned to Geneva later. He met Piguet and formed the partnership with him; they worked in Geneva under the name "Piguet & Meylan" from 1811 to 1828. The company was well known for the production of early ”China-watches” and became famous for its pocket watches with special functions; they created automatons with man and animal shapes and intricate musical mechanisms as well as skeleton watches.
Watches for the Chinese Market Imperial China was at its height in the 18th century. Not only the wealthy imperial couple but prosperous merchants and civil servants too were affluent enough to afford high-priced luxury goods. They often bought watches, either to extend their own collections or to pay tribute to the emperor by presenting him with valuable gifts. Europe recognized the burgeoning financial power in the Chinese society and, in addition to exporting the high value Swiss timepieces, the companies began to open their own branches in China. To ensure that contemporary tastes were met and cultural demands of the time satisfied, the preferences of the "new" clientele were carefully investigated. The lavishly decorated watch cases always stood out for their distinctive ornamentation. Shapes, colours and motifs were taken from nature; quality and design were second to none. Flower arrangements were immensely popular because they offered a myriad of possibilities for shape and colour. They came with or without pidgeons, on light or dark grounds that might be opaque or translucent - besides landscapes and traditional Chinese figures, flowers were by far the most popular motif.
Estimate 110,000 - 150,000 €
Price Realised 151,200 €
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