The Sandberg Watch Collection

Hotel Richemond, Geneva, Mar 31, 2001

LOT 329

Hommage to Rousseau.Unsigned, Swiss, circa 1795.Fine and rare 18 ct. gold watch with enamelled decimal Revolutionary dial, traditional duo-decimal dial and Revolutionary calendar.

CHF 12,000 - 16,000

USD 7,000 - 9,500

Sold: CHF 20,700

C. Two-body, polished. D. White enamel eccentric dial for the Revolutionary 10-hour indication at the top with Arabic numerals, Revolutionary minute divisions with 25-minute Arabic numerals, on the bottom duo-decimal dial with Arabic numerals and 15-minute markers, to the right Revolutionary days of the decade, and to the left 30 day month indication. Gilt metal hands. The painting depicts France personified by a young woman breast- feeding her baby, on the other side a tall mast surmounted by aPhrygian cap, symbols of the Revolution, in the background a couple on a riverbank point towards 'Rousseau Island', the island in the Geneva bay which is dedicated to the memory of the Genevan philosopher, champion of liberty. M. 46.8 mm o, hinged, gilt brass full plate, cylindrical pillars, fusee and chain for the going train, verge escapement, plain brass three-arm balance, blued-steel balance spring, continental cock pierced and engraved with four tulips.Diam. 57 mm. Published in the Sandberg book, pages 178-179.

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Grading System
Grade: AAA


Case: 4 - 22
Movement: 4 - 5 - 6*
Dial: 3 - 13 - 01


After the French Revolution a new digital calendar was adopted, the entire time measurement system was changed. The revolutionary year was divided into 12 equal months having 30 days each and an additional 5-day (6-day in a leap year) holiday month; each month was divided into three decades, each having 10 days. The 24-hour day was divided into ten hours, each having 100 minutes, each minute subdivided into 100 seconds. The law was introduced on 24 November 1793 and the provision for decimal hous was suspended on 7 April 1795. we have a period of 18 months during which these watches were produced. the republican calendar law was effective until 9 September 1805.It is quite unusual to find Revolutionary watches with gold cases, since the use of precious metals went against the egalitarian philosophy of the Revolution. It is probable that most of these gold watches were made in Switzerland, and very few of them have survived to the present day.TulipomaniaTulip cases, pendants, hands, and engravings, were evidence of the so-called 'tulipomania', which began when the botanist Carolus Clusius brought tulips for research purposes from Constantinople to the University of Leiden in Holland in 1593. Some bulbs were stolen from his garden and planted, and this was the start of the Dutch tulip trade. The upper classes, first in Holland, then abroad, grew uncommonly fond of them, and tulips steadily increased in popularity and in price. In 1636, for instace, one Viceroy tulip cost approximately as much as ten tons of cheese. It is no wonder the tulip became a popular decorative theme.