Charles & Pierre Landreau, Amsterdam, 51 mm, 114 g, circa 1675
An important and very fine astronomical pre-balance spring watch Case: silver with lavish floral chasing and engraving, large lateral hinge, ball pendant with engraved "Fleur de Lys". Dial: applied eccentric silver hour ring with Roman numerals, applied silver chapter ring with Arabic numerals for moon age, central silver disc with opening for the moon phase, applied silver date ring; three windows showing the stars at "12", the months and their lengths with the seasons at "4" and sunrise and sunset at "8"; gilt dial with floral engraving, blued hands. Movm.: full plate movement, firegilt, signed, chain/fusee, engraved and pierced movement pillars, verge escapement, applied blued pierced click work, iron ring balance without balance spring, florally engraved and pierced balance cock.
Describing this watch demands that we take into consideration another, almost identical timepiece we came across two years after we aquired the first watch. Please note the small stylized lily on each of the pendants; according to Edelmetaal Waarborg Nederland B.V. (the Dutch assay office), this is the master mark of Boele Rijnhout (1629-1689). Rijnhout, a native of Oldenburg, was a renowned silversmith and maker of musical boxes. There is a watch by Jacques Hubert of Rouen in the Musée International d’ Horlogerie in La Chaux d’ Fonds with a strikingly similar case; it dates back to approximately 1670 and one might think that all these cases were created by the same maker - they are all covered with the same mesh of flowers, stems and leaves of tulips, lilies and strawberries in the naturalistic style of Gilles Légaré. The finishing technique strongly suggests that the cases were, if not created by the same craftsman, at least produced in the same workshop. We found another watch with a case that belongs in this group too: On page 34 of his "Cavalcade of Time", Henry B. Fried shows as no. 17 a watch supposedly produced in the Netherlands in 1780, for the London-based company Gallant. There is no doubt that the case of that watch is 100 years older and that it was fashioned in the same workshop as the other three. The museum also shows some watches where the back plates and the arrangement of the dial are identical to the two "Landreau" examples. These pieces also date back to the last third of the 17th century - which is much too early for the watchmaker Salomon Landré. Another clue that points to the brothers Landreau as makers of both watches is the catalogue no. 1 of the "Galerie Genevoise d’ Orlogerie Ancienne" of August 8, 1974, which has as lot 167 an identical astronomical pocket watch with the description "Landreau, Amsterdam" and the interesting date "around 1650". This is particularly striking because at that time the Landreaus - Huguenot refugees - were, according to Mopurgo, already working in Amsterdam; equally important is the fact that none of these watches is fitted with a hairspring, which indicates that they were either created before Huygens invented the balance spring or shortly after, when the new invention had not yet become widespread.
Estimate 21,000 - 25,000 €
This is a lot of a former auction!
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