Important Collectors’ Watches, Pocket...

Geneva, Oct 14, 2007

LOT 387

?Motel Marine Chronometer No. 212? Hri. Motel, Hger de la Marine Rle., ?Chronometre a Suspension?, No. 212. Sold to the Dépôt de la Marine on June 16, 1840, for 2,400 Francs. Very fine and very rare, mahogany, 30-hour marine chronometer with Motel?s front winding, Louis Berthoud-type pivoted detent escapement and conical balance spring.

CHF 50,000 - 70,000

EUR 30,000 - 45,000 / USD 42,000 - 60,000

Sold: CHF 53,100

C. Three-body mahogany box with hinged lid, the top with glazed port covered by a sliding panel inset with numbered brass plaque, brass gimbals with a weighted bowl lined with velvet, brass case en forme de tabatière, similar to that used by Louis Berthoud for his later chronometers, the winding hole on the bezel, covered by a slide engraved ?remontoir?. D. Silvered with radial Roman numerals, outer minute divisions, subsidiary seconds. Blued steel Breguet hands. M. Brass, Motel caliber, fusee with chain, stopwork, Harrison?s maintaining power, Louis Berthoud-type pivoted detent escapement beating 18,000 per hour, the balance and escape wheel jewelled, four-arm bimetallic compensation balance, four trapezoidal weights with gold and platinum temperature and timing adjustment screws, blued steel conical balance spring, stud with jawed collet, Motel?s mechanism for stopping the balance activated and deactivated by two pins in the dial plate edge. Dial and movement signed, box numbered. Dim. 13 x 16 x 16 cm.

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Grading System
Grade: AAA


Case: 3


Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-6-01


Slightly oxidized

HANDS Original


For a biography of Henri Motel, see previous lot.

?Chronometre a Suspension? No. 212 can be counted amongst Henri Motel?s finest marine chronometers. This chronometer features the calibre adopted by Motel circa 1823 and used throughout his career; it is fitted with all of his technical innovations. Motel?s pivoted detent escapement is almost identical with that of Louis Berthoud, is very ingeniously laid out and can be adjusted very exactly. In 1833 it was stipulated by the Dépôt de la Marine that the chronometers that were purchased had to be wound from the front, it was also noted in the charge book that it would be considered an advantage if the balance of the chronometers could be stopped during transport without having to open the box. Although these requirements were subsequently abandoned, the present chronometer has both of these features.

The Winding System

The front winding system used by Motel was made up of an adjustment on the winding square, a large inclined wheel which meshes with a truncated conical pinion fixed to the fusee arbor. The arbor of the inclined wheel makes an angle of 45 degrees with the vertical and its upper end forms the winding square. The hole is covered by a small sliding cover to protect the mechanism from dust. This method, at once elegant and taking up relatively little space, eliminated all risk of damaging the hands during winding.

The Balance Clamping Device This ingenious mechanism for clamping the balance, arresting it in full action and then starting it again once liberated, is very impressive. A short pin is set on the felloe of the balance parallel to its axis, and a small detent can be brought whenever required into the path of the pin. The balance is thus stopped in such a way that when the pin is removed the chronometer starts up immediately. The small detent is operated by a pin which is pressed into two holes marked ?M? and ?A? positioned on the flange fixing the bezel.