Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, Nov 14, 1993

LOT 188

Mugnier, Horloger de LL. MM. II et RR, No. 1167, circa 1812, Echappement par Winnerl. Extremely fine and unique 18 ct. gold, half quarter-repeating, self winding watch with power reserve indicator and chronometer escapement by Winnerl, in original red Morocco fitted box, marked with the gilt initial of Napoléon.

CHF 0 - 0

Sold: CHF 259,250

C. Four body, "forme quatre baguettes" by Tavernier (Master mark), with reeded band and bezels, the back polished. Gold cuvette. D. White enamel with Roman numerals, subsidiary seconds and 60 hour power reserve indication. Blued-steel Breguet hands. M. 23"', gilt brass, bar caliber with going-barrel, sector-shaped platinum winding weight, pivoted on the edge, polished steel banking springs set with rollers. Pivoted detent escapement, two-arm bimetallic compensation balance with gold poising and timing screws, with a special device to prevent any excessive deformations of the balance rim at extreme temperatures, blued-steel helical balance spring with terminal curves and ruby end-stones. Repeating on gongs with slide in the band. Signed on the dial, the cuvette and the winding weight. In perfect condition. Diam. 58 mm.

Click to full view


LL. MM. II et RR (Leurs Majestés Impériales et Royales): Title given to Napoléon and his wife. The exceptional quality of this watch, not only in its original conception and workmanship, but also the care and attention to details shown by Winnerl in his upgrading of the escapement and dial, make it interesting to speculate as to its history. Napoleon's initial on the box and the fact that Mugnier was clockmaker to both the Emperor and his wife, clearly indicates that it was intended to be either for Bonaparte personally or presented by him to someone of importance. The exact date at which the watch was entrusted to Winnerl for upgrading is unknown, but it vas certainly after Napoleon's death. In view of the fact that he took enormous care to execute the work in such a way that his new escapement apparently made use of only the original holes, that he made a new dial bearing his signature and added his name to the cuvette, would strongly indicate that the watch remained a treasured possession of an important personage who wished it to retain it as a "state of the art" timepiece. Careful examination would indicate the original escapement could only have been a Robin and the new one specially designed to use the original holes. Mugnier, the younger, watchmaker to the Emperor, Kvas working from 1810 to 1830 on the Rue Neuve des Petits Champs. This watch is mentioned in Tardy, Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français. Napoléon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French Born on 15 August 1769 at Ajaccio, Corsica, the son of Charles-Marie Bonaparte and Marie-Laetitia Ramolino, Bonaparte entered the Royal Military school at Brienne in 1779 graduating to the artillery school at Paris whence he passed out in 1785. As Lieutenant in 1786 he i vas stationed in Corsica. In 1789 while stationed at Auxonne he quelled a riot, but he first came into notice in 1792 when he participated in the storming of the Tuileries Palace. M the siege of Toulon, then held by the English, he was commander of artillery and conceived a stratagem for reducing the tocan which finally tell on 17 December 1793. Promoted to Brigadier General and to the command of the artillery in Italy, Bonaparte vas none the less arrested as after 9 thermidor (27 July 1794), since he vas a close friend of Robespierre's brother Augustin. Released he refused to accept a command in the Vendée and vas reduced to the ranks. The vvar of the Dirst Coalition continuing, despite the signing of separate peace with Prussia and Spain, Bonaparte was named in 1796 general of the forces in Italy, carrying out a brilliant campaign which led to a triumphal peace in late 1797, Having decided to attack England through Egypt by severing the trade route to India, Bonaparte embarked on his Egyptian campaign on 19 May 1798. Capturing Malta en-route, he quickly gained victories over the Mameluke rulers of Egypt and assumed control of the country. Despite subsquent victories plague in the French army caused him to raise the siege of Acre, and the French fleet was destroyed at Aboukir by Nelson which meant that the main objective of the campaing could not be achieved. These facts however were unknown in France when Bonaparte decided to leave Egypt to intervene in the unstable internat politics of the realm. After a triumphal arrivai followed by a coup d'état which was badly bungled, the situation being saved only by Bonaparte's brother Lucien, the consular triumvirate vas established being followed by a new constitution which reimposed an autocratie régime on France with power vested in the hands of the First Consul (Bonaparte), appointed in the first instance for ten years, and by decree of August 1802 for life. The consular period was that when Bonaparte was at the height of his powers. The years from 1799 to 1804 saw the creation of most of modern French administrative machinery, the promulgation of the Code, and the Concordat re-establishing relations between the stade and the church. Local administration was reorganised, the Lycée system of centralised state education was established, and the universities reformed. Civic merit, both military and civil yvas recognised by the creation of the Légion d'Honneur. Althougt it had been the surrender of the French forces in Egypt to the British which precipitated the peace negotiations of 1801 which led to the treaty of Amiens, the terms of that agreement were a triumph for Bonaparte's diplomacy, France ceding nothing of its continental conquests and reconverting most of its overseas possession conquered by the English. It was on the ensuing wave of popularity that Bonaparte was elected First Consul for Life, whereupon he adopted use of his christian name only putward symbol of the way in which he quickly subverted the consistution to make himself absolute ruler. From August 1802 onwards France a monarchy in all but name, Napoleon styling himself Emperor only two years later. The peace of Amiens \ vas fragile and Napoleon paid little attention to its provisions, regarding it primarly as a means to obtain time to rebuild the French navy prior to attacking the British in India and building a vast colonial empire. With the renewal of u-var in Europe remarkable victories on land, in particular that of Austerlitz, masked the disaster at sea of Trafalgar. Following the brekup of the Fourth coalition after the French victory at Friedland, the imposition of the Continental system designed to destroy British trade in Europe, the agreement of Tilsit seemed to leave Napoleon free to pursue his eternal dream of the destruction of the British East. At the same time lite in 1807, he overran Portugal which vvas divided with Spain in the internai affairs of which nation he now intrigued in order to place a Bonaparte on its throne. Although this was successfully achieved in 1808, it provoked the uprising of the Spanish people and by the end of that year a British force commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley had gained the battle of Vimiero and secured the evacuation of all French troops from Portugal. These reverses cause Napoleon's ally Alexander of Russia to assume a more difficult posture and encourage resistance elsewhere. Despite further triumphs both diplomatie and military, resistance to Napoleon was now growing throughout Europe while Napoleon's own powers of judgment trustworthyness and conciliation were beginning to wane. The messy years of conflict led this eventually the invasion of France and this virtually forced abdication in 1814. Exiled to Elba, lie returned to France on 26 February 1815 reassuming power with by popular franchise for the 100 days before the final defeat at Waterloo. Exiled again, this time to St. Helena under British guard lie spent most of this time there composing his memoirs and tracts on military and political subjects and supplying in conversation with Las Cases the material that would lead to the latter's propagandist Mémorial, the work chiefly responsible for creating the Napoleonic myth. At St. Helena still he died in 1821.