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Lot No. 295 (89th Auction)
Hubert Sarton à Liège, Height 630 mm, circa 1810

An important, astronomical Empire precision table regulator "Régulateur astronomique" with indications of the day, date and month, lunar calendar, centre seconds and quarter hour / hour strike
Case: moulded black oval marble base on six gilt brass toupie feet. A pair of gilt Tuscan columns supporting the movement and the dials. A later trapezoid glass dome. Dial: enamel ring dial with radial Roman hours, inner radial date ring, centre seconds; very finely engraved gilt bezels, decorated with patterns of bead and reel, palmettes and stars; skeletonized centre allowing a good view of the frontmounted strike mechanism; engraved and pierced gilt hands. Below two subsidiary calender rings for the indication of months with their number of days on the left and on the right the days of the week with corresponding planet symbols; each with skeletonized centre and very finely engraved bezels, snake-shape blued calendar hands. Lunar dial above with phase and age of the moon, engraved gilt bezel. Movm.: trapezoidal brass plates joined by two back-pinned pillars, twin barrels with 60-pin wheel escapement inside. Unique 2-rack strike mechanism on two bells mounted above, and striking the quarters in the Dutch fashion in a very unusual way: the count of hours on the large bell, one strike for the first quarter on the large bell, the count of hours ahead on the small bell for the half-hour, and three strikes on the small bell for the third quarter. Gridiron pendulum steel-suspended from a pivoted knife-edge block. On the backplate, it is to be noted the very unusual rear-mounted steel click wheels, and the crossing-out of the two calendar wheels and all their transmission wheels are identical.

Hubert Sarton (1748 - 1828)
Sarton lived during a momentous period in history. A product of the Enlightenment, he was also a precursor of the industrial age. Furthermore he was fortunate enough to grow up and live in Liège, which at the time was one of the most dynamic artisan and industrial centres in Europe. Very little has been written about him, yet his contribution to the art of horology is of great importance. He began learning the trade working for his uncle Dieudonné Sarton in 1762, where he demonstrated a remarkable talent for the mechanical sciences. After completing a four-year apprenticeship in Paris at the workshop of Pierre Leroy, eldest son of Julien and brother of Jean-Baptiste Leroy, he returned to Liège in 1772 as Master Clockmaker.
A few years later, in 1778, Jean-Baptiste sent him a portrait of his father, accompanied with a dedication which demonstrates the esteem in which he was held: " To Mr. Sarton, clockmaker at Liége, in consideration of his zeal for horology, on behalf of M. Leroy fils, director of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, and arde du cabinet de physique du Roiat Passy ."
Soon after he was appointed "Court Clockmaker" to Duke Charles Alexander of Lorraine, Governor General of Austrian Netherlands, then, as first Mechanic to Prince Bishop François-Charles de Velbrück, he enjoyed the benefits of a privileged position which extended his reputation well beyond the Principality of Liège. He also played a civic role being appointed Commissioner and Treasurer of the city of Liège in 1783.
Eleven years later, the French Revolutionary troops stormed Liège putting an end to Austrian rule. It is hard to ascertain exactly what consequences this historic event had on Hubert Sarton career. It appears from that time forward he concentrated on the production of skeleton clocks in a variety of models. The number of clocks produced suggests that Sarton certainly managed a large workshop with numerous employees - although no documentation has survived to either confirm or contradict this.
Famous for inventing the automatic watch based on a rotor principle, for which he filed a patent at the French Academy of Sciences in 1778, Hubert Sarton created a variety of timepieces throughout his career - Louis XV cartels, Louis XVI mantle clocks, lyre mantle clocks, pendules de compagnie (company clock or waiting-room clock) skeleton clocks and regulators all equally remarkable for their extraordinary quality and diversity.
At once a devoted horologist, mechanic and inventor, Hubert Sarton was one of the major figures of horology in late eighteenth-century Liège. An enlightened man of his time, keen on progress and innovation, his considerable career unfolds as a long series of developments. Having successfully advanced all branches of his trade, this able mechanic dedicated to the art of horology became a master of his art, as witnessed in the exceptional quality and great refinement of his production.
Estimate  65,000 - 75,000 €
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