Provenance : By tradition, Emperor Napoleon I - A French noble family.
This ring watch is only the second known example in the navette shape with quarter-repeating, the other is in the collection of the
Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva. Traditionally, the present watch was presented to the Emperor Napoleon I. What today would be
considered a feminine object would have been perfectly acceptable for a man to wear during the period it was made; this is further
highlighted by the large size of the ring shank. In the early 19th century a ring watch such as this would have been hugely expensive
and regarded as a mechanical marvel in miniature. Napoleon had more than a passing interest in watches and clocks; his patronage of
Breguet shows this beyond doubt. Somebody wishing to impress the Emperor could not have chosen a more suitable and intriguing
The movement of the present watch is a rare type, not only navette-shaped but where the bell is sunk into the movement. This type of
movement with sunk bell was invented by the Genevan maker Antoine Rojard around 1802; it was also used by the firms of Chevalier
& Cochet, Pepin, Genève; Moricand, Genève; Bordier & Cie, Genève and Scherer & Fils. Very few watchmakers had the required skill
to make a watch as sophisticated as this ring watch. Rojard, known for his very high quality automaton and repeating watches was one
such maker. He also often used the virgule escapement in his movements. The virgule is very uncommon, particularly so in a miniature
watch movement. The use of the virgule combined with the recessed bell make an attribution to Rochard the most likely.
Was most likely the son of Jean-Daniel, a horologist, and was active at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries. He is known
to have produced automaton and unusual watches, including ones with thermometers. The Rojard firm continued until the end of
the 19th century and produced, among other things, repeating watches in the English style. An automaton watch with sunken bell
movement and virgule escapement signed ?Inventé par Antoine Rojard à Genève? was sold by Antiquorum, Geneva, on October 16.
2005, lot 245.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Born in Ajaccio, Corsica into a family of minor noble Italian ancestry, he was
educated at military school, rose rapidly within the ranks, and in 1796 he became
commander of the French army in Italy. In 1798 he conquered Egypt, then under
Ottoman rule, in the hopes of undermining British trade with India.
The coup d?état of 18 Brumaire, in November 1799, resulted in Napoleon?s
becoming First Consul. In 1802 he was made consul for life; on December 2, 1804,
he crowned himself Emperor.
In 1800, he defeated the Austrians at Marengo, and negotiated a general
European peace, establishing French power on the continent. Three years later
Britain resumed war with France, soon joined by Russia and Austria.
France?s naval defeat at the hands of the British at Trafalgar in 1805 led Napoleon
to abandon his plans to invade England. Instead, he attacked the Austro-Russian
forces at Austerlitz that same year, and defeated them.
The territory gained gave Napoleon control over most of Europe. Napoleon's
faithful supporters and relations were installed as leaders in several countries
(Holland, Westphalia, Italy, Naples, Spain and Sweden).
The tides soon turned against France, with a series of costly military defeats.
The 1812 invasion of Russia ended in disaster. In March 1814, Paris fell
to the coalition of the Russian, Prussian, and Austrian armies. Napoleon
was forced to abdicate.
He was exiled to the island of Elba, from which he escaped in March
1815. He then returned to power in a brief second reign known as the
?100 Days?, but was again defeated, at the Battle of Waterloo.
Imprisoned by the British on the remote island of St Helena,
Napoleon died on May 5, 1821.
One of history?s greatest military leaders, Napoleon's
campaigns are still studied today in all the world?s
His many lasting achievements include the
centralization of the French government, the
creation of the Bank of France, and the revision
of the civil law codes - the Napoleonic code
remains the basis of French law today - while he
also established the judicial and administrative
foundations for many modern European