Lot No. 89 (93rd Auction)
French or possibly German, 46 x 26 mm, 35 g, circa 1620

An important and exceptionally rare gold and enamel lobed rock crystal watch with cosse-de-pois enamel decoration on the movement backplate
Case: gold and enamel frames decorated with translucent en plain scarlet enamel over a flinque ground, the interior of the movement frame with similar blue champleve decoration. Pendant and button finial enamelled in blue and solid white enamel, and secured by screws to the hexagonal lobed and dimple engraved rock crystal back. The cover of the same design. Dial: oval gold plaque pinned to the movement front plate, decorated in translucent scarlet, blue and green champlevé enamels with cosse-de-pois foliage and a yellow and red butterfly. Applied gold chapter ring with black enamelled Roman numerals and half-hour marks. Single gold hand. Movm.: oval gilt plates with baluster pillars, narrow fusee with gut line, three-wheel train with verge escapement, plain steel balance without spring. Pierced and engraved balance cock with reduced foot secured by a screw. The backplate overlaid with a gold plaque decorated in a similar manner to the dial with red, blue, green and yellow translucent and opaque white enamel with a cosse-de-pois design.

Watches with an enamelled gold overlay on the movement are exceptionally rare although not unknown. A watch with such a plaque, also with gold and enamel frames and rock crystal covers was sold at Christie's Geneva in 1989 [1]. The movement was stamped with the initials MB, and certain of the translucent enamel colours indicated that it might be of French origin. Indeed without a signature it is difficult to be definitive as to the country of origin of the present lot. The technique of the enamelling is common to both French and German watches and jewels of the period, as indeed is the construction of the movement.

The style of ornament known as Cosse-de-Pois (pea-pod) flourished for only a short period during the first half of the 17th Century and mainly in France. Although a number of artists created and published designs, very few items of jewellery and even fewer watches were created using the style. Peter Fuhring and Michele Bimbenet, whose extensive work on the subject was published in 2002 [2] recorded some forty engravings dating between 1612 and circa 1640. Amongst these can be noted Jacques Briot, Paris,1629, and Pierre DeLaBarre, Paris circa 1640. In addition there is the series of monogrammed prints stamped AD and dated 1608 [3], and the series by Jean Toutin, the famous designer, engraver and enameller published in Chateaudun in 1619.

A further set of designs were engraved by the Strasbourg artist Isaac Brun, after Peter Symony and published in 1621[4]. Strasbourg was a free Imperial city in the the south west of the Holy Roman Empire, with a guild of exceptional gold and silversmiths.

1. Christie's, Geneva, Fine Wrist and Pocket Watches, 10 May, 1989, lot 337
2. Peter Fuhring et Michèle Bimbenet-Privat, « Le style « cosses de pois ». L’orfévrerie et la gravure à Paris sous Louis XIII », Gazette des beaux-arts, janvier 2002, p. 1-224
3. Si quid melius videris J. Toutin A Chasteaudun 1619
4. Tabulae Gemmiferae / XXIV. / Ad vsum aurifabrorum / accommodatae et / Per / P. Symony w , / Ifaac brun Argentinae / fculpsit, / 1621.'
Lettered in the lower centre of the plate:'I / Zü Strasbürg beij Zacob von der Heijden kupferstecher'

Provenance: Rothschild Collection
Estimate  80,000 - 120,000 €
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