Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces

Geneva, Mar 11, 2012

LOT 118

FRERES ROCHAT - EXCEPTIONAL SINGING BIRD BOX WITH MUSIC & REPEATING WATCH Frères Rochat, Geneva, No. 61, the box attributed to Georges Rémond et Compagnie. Made for the Chinese market circa 1820. Magnificent and extremely rare, 18K gold, enamel, pearl and turquoise-set singing bird box with independent musical movement and center-seconds, quarter-repeating watch.

CHF 120,000 - 180,000

USD 130,000 - 200,000 / EUR 100,000 - 150,000

Sold: CHF 218,500

C. Four-body, rectangular with rounded corners decorated with royal blue translucent enamel swagged classical urns, each side and the base with panels of ?basket? engine-turning, the borders decorated with royal blue translucent champlevé enamel stylized fl owers and leaves, hinged side panel for the key compartment, hinged front panel with aperture for the watch with pearl-set border, the hinged top panel opening to reveal a polished and foliate engraved gold plate, oval medallion concealing the bird very fi nely chased with a bouquet of fl owers set with pearls and turquoises within half-pearl-set frame, when the bird cover is opened, the bird rises and begins to move and the song starts, activated by a slide in the edge of the case, the articulated bird sings, rotates, turns its head, opens its beak, fl aps its wings and moves its tail. D. White enamel with radial Roman numerals, outer minute and seconds dot divisions. Blued-steel spearhead hands, gold center-seconds hand. M. 17 x 63 mm, rectangular, brass, going barrel, cylinder escapement with brass escape wheel, three-arm balance, bluedsteel fl at balance spring, repeating on two rectangular-shaped straight gongs via a gold slide at the base of the box. The singing bird movement: 45 x 70 mm., rectangular brass, fusee and chain, eight cams and a whistle with sliding piston for the song's modulation, the cams rotate four times per song and lift one step every rotation, allowing a long duration of singing, the multicolored feathered bird with moving wings, beak, tail, and turning head rotates on its axis, refl ected on the inside of the medallion which is mirror-polished and concave, enlarging the bird in its refl ection, cam-controlled rising of the bird medallion and the bird, with fi ve-wheel train terminated with a pinion in eccentric adjustable bushing to regulate the speed of the opening and closing, this complicated mechanism allows for precision control of the order and speed of the bird rising and the medallion opening. Musical movement: Pin barrel playing with two stacks of eight tuned teeth each, with grasshopper-shaped vibrating tuned blades, activated by a bolt on the back of the case. Stamped "FR" in oval and numbered on the watch movement and bird movement. Dim. 87 x 62 x 28 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 2

Very good

Movement: 2*

Very good

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 2-01

Very good

HANDS Original


It is exceptional to fi nd a singing bird box with both music and a watch with repeating. The musical movement is interesting in that it has tuned steel teeth of ?grasshopper? form. The bent shape of these teeth was intended to provide greater length and therefore lower notes. A movement by Rochat with a very similar arrangement of teeth to the present box is illustrated in ?Flights of Fancy?, Bailly, 2001, p. 259. The gold box is of classic Remond design and execution and can be compared to several other boxes by Rochat with signed Remond boxes and therefore be confi dently attributed to them. FR (Frères Rochat) Sons of David Rochat (1746-1812), who was received Master watchmaker in 1766 - François Elisée, Frédéric, and Samuel Henri. David Rochat and sons worked for Jaquet-Droz and Leschot, providing ebauches of singing bird mechanisms, at the end of the 18th century. Around 1813, these three Rochat brothers moved to Geneva and went into business on their own, soon splitting up into two groups. François remained on his own (later aided by his son, Ami Napoléon), and Frédéric and Samuel worked together, (with Frédéric's sons, Antoine and Louis). FR is usually thought to stand for these Rochat brothers, although it is possible that the signature FR may stand for a single name: François Rochat, or Frederic Rochat. There were also other Rochats working in Geneva at the time. Among them is Louis Rochat, originally from l'Abbaye in the Vallée de Joux, who is considered to be the maker of a piece with clock and singing birds (today in the Peking Museum) which won a prize from the Genevan Réunion des Industriels in 1829. In 1814, Louis and his brother François formed an association along with Pierre Daniel Campiche, called Frères Rochat et Compagnie. To complicate matters, there were ties between the various Rochats. For example, Louis Rochat from l'Abbaye worked with Antoine (son of Frédéric) for a time, around 1850. It is however clear that the Rochat family produced a majority of the fi nest and most complex singing bird objects