The Art of Horology in Geneva

Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, Nov 13, 1999

LOT 66

Attributable to Jaquet-Droz, Geneva, No. I,circa 1785.Magnificent and exceptional 18K gold and enamel pearl and ruby-set singing bird watch.

CHF 0 - 0

Sold: CHF 839,500

C. Double body, Louis XVI, the bezels set with alternated rubies and split-pearls and enamelled with paillonné decoration over a black ground, pendant and bow decorated en suite. The enamel back panel painted in a medallion with an allegorical scene depicting Venus paying tribute to Cupid, outer paillonné floral decoration over a dark blue ground. D. Small eccentric white enamel with Roman numerals and outer minute ring. Gold pierced hands. Polished gold dial plate with split-pearl set border, aplied with high relief enamelled, split-pearl set cornucopia full of flowers chased in high relief. The feather covered automaton bird is perched above thedial on a gold branch chased in high relief and applied on the dial plate. M. Gilt brass full plate withcylindrical pillars, the back plate relieved for the circular bellow. Going train with going barrel and cylinder escapement, steel escape wheel, plain brass three-arm balance, flat balance spring. Singing bird train: Fusee with chain wound by means of a slide in the band, the bird's movements of the beak and tail are driven by means of two cams fitted above the song cams, between the lower wheel and the fuse. The song of the bird is modulated by means of a piston controlled whistle.Serial number scratched on the movementDiam. 62 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 3


Movement: * 3
Dial: 3 - 01


Four watches of this type are known to exist:- One in the Sandoz Collection, previously in the Gustave Loup Collection, and it is described by A. Chapuis and E. Gélis inLe Monde des Automates, Paris 1928, Vol. II, p. 122, fig. 399.- One, previously in the Gélis Collection, is described byA. Chapuis and E. Gélis in Le Monde des Automates, Paris 1928, Vol. II, 122, fig. 398, coloured pl. 5.- One in the Lord Michael Sandberg Collection, is No. 25 of the book, Antiquorum Editions, 1999.- The watch now offered for sale.According to A. Chapuis and E. Gélis in Le Monde des Automates, Paris 1928, Vol. II, p. 122, this type is the earliest of all and the watch reproduced pl. 5, carries, scratched on the movement, the No. VIII, which they consider as the serial number. Therefore, the watch now offered for sale, with the No. I, should be the first of the series. It is also the sole, on which the bird, made of silver like the three others, is covered with feather, instead of being painted, but one might think that thfeathers are a later addition.Previously in the John Asprey Collection, this watch was part of the exhibition in New York, ASPREY, 725 Fifth Avenue: Magic,Musical and Motion, an exhibition of rare 18th and 19th Century watches, boxes and automata, from the Asprey private collection, No. 32, p. 42 of the catalogue.Four types of singing bird watches are recorded:- With the singing bird rising to begin his song on the middle of the watch.- With the singing bird springing out of the band to begin his song.- With the bird perched on a branch above the dial.- One on which there is a very small bird in a cage, applied on the dial plate, but the bird does not really sing, more likely, it tweets or chirps.According to the period they were made (between 1785 and 1788), the type with the bird perched on a branch, could be the first application of the piston controlled whistle to modulate the song of the bird which was before reproduced by means of small organ pipes, like on the serinettes, used during the 18th century to teach a song to canaries.From the Mark Yaffe Collection