The watch is in perfect working order and near mint condition, the present watch is an exemple of finest horological finishing and fascinating unusual technical features of a high precision timekeeper. No other example has been offered at auction. The brand Lattes frères worked between 1860 to 1900 from Geneva and was renowned for their complicated watches made for the middle East market.
Lattes Frères & Compagnie
Lattes Frères & Co., Cairo, was a company specialising in the watch and jewellery trade in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Prior to January 1st, 1883, it established a branch in Geneva, under the same name, with the following type of business: “horlogerie et bijouterie” (watchmaking and jewellery).
Its office is located at 9, boulevard James Fazy, near the Cornavin railway station, on the right bank of the Rhône, above the Saint-Gervais district, the historical centre of the Genevan Fabrique (i.e. the watchmakers’ district in the 18th and 19th centuries). Boulevard James Fazy is a part of Geneva’s main ring road, which was gradually built up in the last third of the 19th century; it was then a modern artery. The new Ecole des arts industriels (School of Industrial Arts; later the Ecole des arts décoratifs, School of Decorative Arts) and the Ecole d’horlogerie (Horological school; entrance from rue Necker) are located here.
The general partners are Mr. Asser Lattes, Mr. Bonajuto Lattes and Mr. Job Lattes, all three from Cuneo (Italy), residing in Alexandria (Egypt). The Genevan branch is managed by Mr. Amédée Chantre of Geneva, who has power of attorney for the company.
Cuneo – Coni in Italian – is a town in Piedmont, located as the crow flies, halfway between Turin and Nice. As early as the 18th century, there were Lattes, wool and fabric merchants, just like in Nice. It should be remembered that the County of Nice, an integral part of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, as well as the Duchy of Savoy, were annexed to France in June 1860, becoming the departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Savoy and Haute-Savoie (part of which borders Geneva).
The Davoine professional directory of 1880-1882 in fact already mentions “Lattes frères et Cie, Boulevard St-Gervais 9, Genève” under “Horlogerie - Fabricants et Commerçants” (Horology - Manufacturers and Traders). Boulevard Saint-Gervais is the former name of Boulevard James Fazy.
In 1891, the same directory mentions “Lattes, J., Boulevard J. Fazy 9, Genève”. In 1896, the address became “Boulevard J. Fazy 3”. The inscription continued until 1899 and then disappeared.
At one time, the company’s name in Geneva was “Lattes, Gardiol & Cie”.
Some fitted boxes for watches or medals (military awards) bear the inscription “J. Lattes, fournisseur de S.M. le roi d’Egypte & de l’Etat, Le Caire” (J. Lattes, supplier to H.M. the King of Egypt & the State, Cairo), others later “Maison Lattes, L. Rosen & Cie, Succ, Le Caire” (Lattes House, L. Rosen & Co., Successor, Cairo).
An advertisement printed on the back of a map of Cairo, probably dating from 1900-1910, tells us that J. Lattes was in liquidation. It also states its date of foundation, 1860, its address in Cairo, El Manak Street, and its address in Turin, Via Baretti, 45. It also reads “J. Lattes, Jeweller, Speciality of Oriental Pearls, Egyptian Jewellery with Real Scarabs, Geneva Watches”.
Several watches signed Lattes (J. Lattes / Lattes Frères & Cie / Lattes, Gardiol & Cie) are listed. They are mostly of very high quality and with horological complications.
The watch we present here is of the highest standard and its complication type of the rarest. Moreover, its state of preservation is irreproachable.
Notice, commentary and biography by Arnaud Tellier, March 31, 2023.
The article from Flores in the A.F.A.H.A. No. 63 Juin 2008 describes the identical watch Lattes Frères made in silver No. 12865 ordered by the sultan of Egypt. It is obvious that such a special watch was not ordered by 2 different parties and that the Sultan of Egypt ordered also the second watch No. 10789 this time in gold for his private use or as a gift to an important person.
The present watch is a rare combination of sidereal and mean solar time. It is not a two time zone watch as described otherwise. According to literature watches with double movement are extremely rare. We see them first between 1790 and 1820. Their need was not very clear beside the need of a 2 time zone indication which could have been presented easier with just a double train for the hands. The present watch is another dimension and of a different demand as it is used as a precision timekeeper in an observatory to determine an exacte sidereal time of 366,2422 days a year or 3 minutes 56 seconds a day that it precedes the other movement with its solar time of 365.2422 days a year. The nowadays knowledge about the exact functioning and the construction details are related to the article about the sister watch No.12865 published by the famous french author Joseph Flores in 2008 in the journal of the french collector's society A.F.A.H.A.: An extract of his analogous rendering of his quotes is the following: "The watch is in each part highest quality. How to find out the sidereal mechanism? To confirm this, it is already necessary to clean it, in order to check how each of the movements is regulated, if there is a difference in the size of the wheels or simply a difference in the count of the organs regulating the 2 balance/hairspring assemblies. This dismantling operation allows us to see the exceptional quality of this double construction. Yes, everything is duplicated, except that the watch only has one winding crown, which involves a trick to wind each of the movements".