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Lot No. 192 (95th Auction)
Vacheron & Constantin Genève, "Chronomètre Royal", Movement No. 368543, Case No. 412081, 70 mm, circa 1948

An extremely rare Geneva table clock with world time indicator according to Louis Cottier
Case: brass, pink gilt, burl wood base. Dial: two-tone silvered, enameled names of cities. Movm.: bridge movement, gold screw compensation balance.

It is impossible to talk about world time clocks in the 20th century without mentioning the name Louis Cottier. The important brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and also Vacheron & Constantin created their world time clocks according to his design and they were owned by famous personalities such as Churchill, Truman, Roosevelt and De Gaulle.
Among the rarest and most sought-after models is Vacheron & Constantin‘s Chronomètre Royal desk clock; only six of them have ever been made and their strikingly unusual design - where the distinctive red gold case is held in its angled wooden base by four knobs - makes them stand out from all others.

Louis Cottier
In the late 19th century people became increasingly mobile and watchmakers everywhere had to adjust and update their constructions to respond to the challenges of this new mobility. The globe is divided into 24 time zones representing 15 degrees of longitude starting from the Greenwich Meridian; watches reflected this by rotating the bezel so that the local time zone sits at 12 o'clock and the outer day and night ring tells the time in any of the locations that are available on the bezel. The design was developed by Louis Cottier, a renowned and incredibly gifted watchmaker working in Geneva.

Louis Cottier was born in Carouge in 1894; his father Emmanuel Cottier was famous for his exquisite watches and automatons. As early as 1885 Emmanuel had developed a so-called world time system which he presented to the Société des Arts; little did he know that some 40 years later his work should inspire and drive his son and eventually allow him to register a patent for a fascinating new construction.
Louis studied watchmaking at the horological school in Geneva and was soon discovered to be an exceptionally talented maker who began winning prizes from an early age on - among them two honours from Patek Philippe, the company he should later have a close working relationship with for nearly 30 years. After completing his education, Cottier worked at the Geneva branch of Jaeger for some time before eventually setting up his own business. For 13 years he created fine pocket watches, wristwatches and desk clocks and developed groundbreaking prototypes in the back room of his wife's book and stationary shop at 45 Rue Vautier in Carouge. He introducted his "heures universelles" in 1931, a practical invention that featured a central local time with hour and minute hands that was linked to a rotating 24 hour ring and bordered by either an independently revolving time zone bezel or an outer dial ring, which were both manually adjusted. The wearer would now align the local time zone with 12 o'clock on the local time dial and be able to read the exact time for every time zone in the world on a single dial!
When his new system proved to be successful, Cottier began specialising in this type of sophisticated world time watch and created them for the most prestigious companies in Geneva such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Vacheron Constantin and Agassiz.
Cottier strove continuously to improve his constructions and in 1950 he developed a world time system with two crowns, which many experts consider to be one of the most useful horological inventions of the 20th century. Not only did the improved mechanism offer enhanced security and precision in the choice of the reference city name, it also had increased shock protection and safeguarded the bezel much better from wear and tear. The protective glass allowed the city names to be printed instead of engraved so that they were much easier to read.
Patek Philippe enjoyed the close and successful relationship with Cottier for many years and trusted him completely.
Throughout his lifetime Cottier was a modest and unassuming man and it may have come as a kind of shock to him had he known that even today his workshop can be visited at the Musée d'Horlogerie et d'Emaillerie in Geneva. After his death in 1966 a square was named after him in his honour in his birthplace Carouge.
To this day Louis Cottier's design remains the standard that is used in mechanical world time watches everywhere.
Estimate  35,000 - 45,000 €

Price Realised  39,700 €
A lot from a recent auction!

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