Important Collectors’ Wristwatches, P...

Geneva, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Du Rhône, May 13, 2007

LOT 236

?Rock Crystal Crucifix? Conrad Kraiserer, (Augsburg). Made circa 1610. Fine and exceptional, rock crystal and gilt brass, cruciform, pre-balance spring singlehand pendant watch with stackfreed and polychrome champlevé enamel silver dial.

CHF 30,000 - 60,000

EUR 20,000 - 37,000 / USD 25,000 - 50,000

Sold: CHF 76,700

C. Two-body, in the shape of a Patriarchal cross, of two pieces of gilt brass-mounted carved rock crystal hinged at the top, turned side finials, small lower finial with engraved Maltese cross base, engraved Maltese cross pendant with loose ring. D. Silver champlevé, chapter ring with radial Roman numerals and dot half-hour divisions, the center decorated with a depiction of the temptation of Eve, with Adam and Eve flanking the apple tree, the outer border decorated with angels, flowers and the crucifixion below, all in red, blue, white and green translucent and painted enamels. Steel ?tulip? hand. M. 48 x 32 mm., hinged, gilt brass full plate, turned vase pillars, fixed going barrel with engraved border, verge escapement, incomplete stackfreed, steel circular foliot without balance spring, elongated cock asymmetrically pierced and with floral engraving, secured by a pin, provision for hog?s bristle regulator. Movement signed. Dim. 79 x 51 mm. Property of an American Family

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Grading System
Case: 3-7



Movement: 3-17*


Slightly spotted

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-55-57-06


Luminous material reapplied

Original later bezel

HANDS Partially replaced


The Stackfreed
Was designed to equalize the varying force of the mainspring. This was necessary because the rate of the foliot?s oscillation depends directly on the force with which the escape wheel acts upon it. In a watch, the force transmitted to the escape wheel when the watch is fully wound is about twice that of when it is nearly run down. The need for an equalizing device was realized early on in the development of horology and the stackfreed was a crude but relatively effective method of achieving this. It was only made for a relatively short period before being superceded by the fusee. In a 26-hour watch, the action of the stackfreed spring causes a constant high friction for the first 12 hours after winding, a slowly diminishing friction for the next 6 hours and a rapidly diminishing friction for the next 6 hours and no friction during the last 1 or 2 hours. This action agrees roughly with the variation in force of a coiled spring. The stackfreed is only found in watches made in Germany and continued to be used there into the 17th century even after the introduction of the fusee.

The Kreizer (also Kreiser & Kraiserer) Family.
The Kreizer family was a veritable dynasty of watchmakers, with at least four individuals apparently bearing the same Christian name. Some uncertainty exists as to whether Conrad III and IV were not in fact the same person, but certainly one of the Kreizer's occupied the position of clockmaker to the Knights of the Grand Cross of Malta and indeed several watches (including the present lot) signed by Kreizer use their characteristic cross as the form for the pendant. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a cruciform watch by him. Another one, in an octagonal case with eight pronounced lobes, was sold by Antiquorum, Geneva, October 1995, lot 841.

The History of the Crucifix-Form Watches
Around 1580, the styles of watch cases began to diversify and develop markedly in terms of sophistication and variety and the first crucifix shaped watches appeared at about this time, being one of the first major departures in case style from the circular form, they were a natural progression of the visual religious arts of the time into the art of horology. At the time, these watches would have been amongst the most expensive objects that money could buy, so it is certain that the earliest crucifix watches would only have been commissioned or presented to Popes, Cardinals and Bishops although the ownership of such watches was multi-denominational. Prior to about 1600 the cases of most watches including the crucifix type were of solid metal, either gilded brass or silver engraved with a design, usually and quite naturally, "The Crucifixion". The shapes of the crucifix watch cases did however differ and included the standard "cross" shape, the "patriarchal" cross and the "Maltese" cross along with multiple small stylistic variations. The majority of the surviving crucifix watches date from the first quarter of the 17th century when the inclusion of the lapidary's art became an integral part of watchmaking, thus, the crucifix watch is on the whole to be found with a rock crystal case which added to the watch's beauty as a pendant. Most of the dials of crucifix watches are engraved silver and brass and interestingly, about thirty to forty percent of surviving examples have secular decoration such as foliage, animals and townscapes. This shows that the cruciform watch was also to be found worn in the upper echelons of more general society where people wanted to show their piety yet not display any particular religous allegiance. Famously, some watches were made for the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of Malta) in the shape of their insignia of the Maltese cross. The most exceptional crucifix watches had enamelled silver dials, almost always champleve and finely executed with both translucent and opaque colors, these pieces were at the very pinnacle of princely objects, owned only by royalty and clergy affilliated to royal households. Mechanically, the shape of the crucifix watch obviously restricted the space and design layout of the movement, most of which have a linnear wheel train with the going barrel or fussee at the upper end and the escapement towards the base. The fashion for crucifix watches lasted until about 1675 and in fact, almost all crucifix watches were made before the use of the balance spring in watches. Crucifix watches have interest for the collector on several levels, historically, decoratively and technically and give insight into early horology and its associated crafts.