Important Wristwatches, Watches & Clocks
Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, October 14, 1990
Highly important Louis XVI parcel-gilt and painted `Pendule Astronomique' with skeletonised movement. Circa 1770. Unisgned, but possibly attributable to Jean Louis Bouchet, Horloger du Roi, the case by Jean-Batiste Guillaume Prevost and made for the titled family of Velut de la Cronière.
Case of monumental stature, the carcass of hard and soft woods, with carved and giIt mouldings and applied decorations against a cream ground. Ebonised base with indented comers and deeply carved and gilt foliage moulding above. Trunk flanked on all sides by reeded and fluted rectangular section columns rising to acanthus carved scroll brackets, the front door with an oval glazed pendulum aperture bordered by an entwined laurel foliage wreath with ribbon swags; sides with applied trophies of scientific instruments including an armillary sphere, universal ring dial, a compass, quadrant and dividers. An egg-and-dart moulding above supports a frieze of Vitruvian scrolls. The hood glazed on three sides with hinged lockable frames, each carved with ribbon ornamented'oak-leaf foliage and acoms; a dentilled frieze and further egg-and-dart mouldings above. The pediment with a broad gilt concave moulding mounting elaborately carved and free-standing garlands of trailing foliage and flower heads ; a plinth decorated with a complex Greek key pattem supporting a carved wooden um, painted in grey 'faux-marbre' with gilt handles and pine cone finial, an entwined snake indicating the hours with its tail and the minutes with its tongue on the 'annular' enamel chapter rings. Stampel with the punch of J.B.G. Prevost. Dial with a central glass chapter-ring and gold leaf Roman hour chapters, outer minute ring and Arabic five minute numerals, secured by a moulded and gilt brass bezel. Large outer silvered annular ring and two smaller intersecting silver dials below to the left and right, with an elaborately pierced and engraved gilt pointer between forming the monogram TVDC (see note). The astronomical and calendrical indications shown by the clock are as follows; Main dial : Centre - Solar time in hours and minutes with pierced and gilt 'Louis XVI' hands, the minute with a sun engraved on the tait. Sweep centre-seconds with counterpoised blued-steel pointer. Outer revolving silvered ring engraved with the months and date on the outer edge, the inside with the seasons and zodiac months with representative figures and signs. Relevant date indicated by the pierced 'monogram' pointer. Lower Ieft (from centre outwards) : Days of the week with ruling sign and pierced gilt hand. Scales for the hours of daylight and night, adjustable for latitude. Sunrise/ sunset rise-and-fall shutters, moving over a Roman chapter ring calibrated about 12 noon, with an inner vernier scale enabling the time to be read within an accuracy of 1Y2 minutes. Skyline above the horizon represented by a blue painted ring behind, the revolving hand with engraved and gilt sun pointer. Fixed sector below engraved with the figurai representations of four constellations with the relevant stars and names - Grande Ourse, Petite Ourse, Cephée and Cassiopée. Lower right (from the centre outwards): Moon phase aperture, the centre plate with 'taille-douce' engraved scene of an astronomer tking observations through a telescope mounted with a quadrant, measuring instruments at his feet, trees, a house and the sun in the background. Revolving lunar disc with engraved silvered moon and stars on a dark blue ground, the chamfered edge of the aperture with the age calibrated to 29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes. Fixed 2 x XII Roman hour chapter ring with 1/4 hour divisions, and an outer revolving ring indicating World Time, engraved with the names of 48 places, the edge calibrated to 360°. Mean Time in hours and minutes is given by the enamelled annular dials in the urn surmounting the clock. Movement of skeletonised design (see note) with substantial rectangular back and front frames each pierced with a central A pattern to mount the wheelwork, supported by ten tumed ringed pillars secured by screws at the front and pins at the rear. Four baluster turned feet support the movement in the case. Two-train weightdriven and wound from the back with access gained through the side doors. All wheels with five or six spoke crossings. Going-train with Lepaute's developed form or Amant's pin-wheel escapement, the crutch-piece inverted and acting upon a cranked extension piece rising upwards from the main pendulum rod. Variant form of Berthoud's compensation pendulum with two-piece brass and steel rod, the decentralised bob engraved with the Cronière coat-of-arms, surmounted by a Count's crown and the motto Pro Rege Pro Patria; adjustable knifeedge suspension from a massive brass tripod support formed of "S" scroll brackets and secured to the baseboard. Striking train with single count-wheel affixed to the backplate with quarter-striking on three stacked bells by means of vertical shafts and cranked hammers. Connection to the annular dials in the um taken from a contrate wheel on the back engaging a vertical shaft carrying the drive wheels, the pivots provided with end plates. Skeletonised 'kidney' cam for the differential equation work mounted on the six-spoke 'crescent' pierced wheel behind the glass dial, the year calendar ring affixed to the points. A mirror for mounted on the case backboard to reflect the movement details. In very good condition. Dim. 303 cm high x 92 cm wide x 53 cm deep.