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Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces

Hong Kong, Oct 19, 2012

LOT 185

RING WATCH WITH MINIATURE WATCH MOVEMENT ? ONE OF THE SMALLEST VERGE MOVEMENTS KNOWN J. T. à Paris. Made circa 1770. Very fine and extremely rare, 18K gold ring watch with 13.5 mm verge movement and a paste-set gold key. Accompanied by a gold-tooled red morocco trunk-form fitted box.

C. Circular body with hinged bezel chased with foliage, polished and foliate chased band, glazed back, shank with pierced rococo decoration. D. White enamel, radial Roman numerals, outer minute track and Arabic fi ve-minute numerals, winding aperture between 3 and 4 o?clock. Yellow gold arrow hands. M. 13.5 mm., hinged, frosted gilt full plate with cylindrical pillars, fusee and chain, verge escapement, three-arm steel balance with fl at balance spring, pierced and engraved foliate cock. Movement signed. Diam. 19.5 mm.

HKD 150,000 - 300,000

USD 20,000 - 40,000 / EUR 15,000 - 30,000

Sold: HKD 137,500

Grading System
Case: 3


Movement: 3-29**


Lacking elements

Repair required, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-06


HANDS Partially replaced


This ring watch contains one of the smallest watch movements of the 18th century with a diameter of 13.5 mm. Another, by J. Thierry, London, circa 1770, was, until the discovery of the present watch, the smallest verge watch movement known at 14 mm, this watch was sold by Antiquorum, Geneva, 11th & 12th April 1992. Miniature watches have always been a challenge for watchmakers, who have vied with one another to produce ever-smaller mechanisms. The earliest known surviving example is a tiny gold and enamel clockwatch by an unknown German maker, circa 1610, which once belonged to Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia and was sold as part of the Harcourt Collection at Sotheby's London in 1992.
Ring watches Watchmakers have always been fascinated with the idea of fi tting a watch into a ring. Only a few succeeded. In the early days, successful attempts fi nished on the fi ngers of Kings, Princes and prelates. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art there is a very early ring watch, dated about 1560 and signed I.W. The Mantua archives contain a letter from James Widman to the Duke of Mantua concerning three ring watches, and quite possibly, one of them is the one in the Metropolitan Museum. In about 1650 Johan Ulrich Schmidt of Augsburg made a ring watch for the Elector Johann Friedrich. In 1764, the young John Arnold presented an extraordinary ring watch to King George III of England. It was a half-quarter repeater that was less than two centimeters in diameter and had 120 parts. The watch brought fame to Arnold and established him as a very capable watchmaker. The Emperor of Russia offered Arnold double what George III had paid, for another such ring, but Arnold refused.