This watch is one of the most complicated and beautiful ever made by this watchmaker whose production was often destined for the Indian and South American markets.
The case of this watch is a master-piece of the goldsmith and case maker’s combined skills. Not only is the four-colour work of particularly high-relief and fine quality, but also the construction of the case itself, involving some 27 different parts, is a remarkable achievement.
At the time, Le Locle was probably the best-known centre in Switzerland for the making of cases with elaborate gold work and engraved decoration. Such work was usually destined for the Spanish and South American market.
· Antiquorum, Geneva, auction, October 20, 1991, lot 455 (Estimation: CHF 160 000.- / 190 000.-).
· Sotheby’s, Geneva, auction, May 13, 2015, lot 175, sold for the amount of CHF 118 750.- (Estimation: CHF 100 000.- / 150 000.-).
Le Locle, December 14, 1803 – Le Locle, March 21, 1879
Swiss chronometer maker, active in Le Locle and London.
From 1824 until 1830 he was assigned the task of organizing the South American branches of his father’s company; in 1830, his brother Henri-Gustave Grandjean emigrated to Peru and was from then on in charge of these businesses.
Henri Grandjean trained as a watchmaker in his home town. Around 1830, his factory “Henri Grandjean & Cie.” began to build marine chronometers that were modelled on the English chronometers. His business partner was at the time Edouard Thévenaz. Together with Louis-Jean Richard and Ulysse Nardin, he was the originator of the Swiss marine chronometer production.
Along with Constant Girard (1825-1903; later Girard-Perregaux), Henry Grandjean was also one of the first to enter the South American market.
In 1831, Grandjean married Elise Montandon, the daughter of Isaac-Pierre Montandon.
He was granted permission to open watchmaking schools and founded the observatory at Neuchâtel. Later, Grandjean went into politics and became representative and prefect of the city of Le Locle.
In La Chaux-de-Fonds, he worked for the establishment of the Quartier-Neuf, which was finally built in 1855; his intention was to eliminate real estate speculation and to create low priced housing for working-class families.
In 1851, at the first Universal Exposition in London, Grandjean received a First Class medal. His list of medals continues until 1868, the year in which the company won an award for its marine chronometers. In the meantime, they also received at least eight different awards, not including those from the Observatory of Neuchâtel. In 1873, the company received in Vienne, a Diploma of Honour (Gold Medal) and the Merit Medal.
Henry Grandjean died in 1879 but it appears that the company continued for the next twenty years until 1899, the year in which Rossel & Fils registered their name as successors, who were also most likely running the company during these 20 years. On January 9, 1908, Rossel & Fils transferred the title to Charles-Ferdinand Perret.
A street in Le Locle was named after him – the rue Henri Grandjean.
On the watches, the name Grandjean can be found with two possible spellings, “Grandjean” or “GrandJean”.