The Art of Horology in Geneva

Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, Nov 13, 1999

LOT 87

Piguet & Meylan, Genève, the enamel attributable to Jean Abraham Lissignol, Geneva, the case attributable to Jean-Georges Rémond, Geneva, made for the Chinese Market, circa 1820.Le C?urA highly important gold, enamel, pearl and turquoise-set, heart-shaped, quarter repeating musical automaton, centre-seconds, watch, in original silver fitted protecting case.

CHF 0 - 0

Sold: CHF 2,203,500

C. Two-body, massive hinged at the top, the covers entirely pavé with double rows of decreasing split-pearls alternating with blue champlevé enamelled lines; the back centred with an exceptionally fine enamelled allegorical representation of Venus and Cupid, painted by Lissignol. Pearl-set bezel and intertwined turquoise set arrows. The front face decorated en suite and centred with the dial. The back panel opening and decorated inside on the edge with eau-de-nile enamel, the plate surroundinghe movement engraved with ribbon flowers enamelled in green and red flinqué colours against a pale blue champlevé ground. The enamel panel of the automaton scene finely painted with a lake-side landscape, applied with a varicoloured gold scene depicting a maiden playing a lute and a young man playing a harmonica, a windmill turning in the background. D. White enamel, with Roman numerals, outer minute and seconds ring. Blued-steel "scotties" hands with counter-poised centre-seconds. M. Gilt brasswith free standing barrel, cylinder escapement with plain three-arm balance and blued-steel flat balance spring. Pinned disc musical musical train with 20 individual tuned teeth, playing at the hour or at will, the Music/Silent lever in the edge. Repeating on two gong by depressing the pendant.Dim. 95 x 65 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 1 - 17
Movement: * 2
Dial: 1 - 01


According to Dr. Hans Boeckh, the allegorical scene, painted on the enamel panel on the back of this watch, is typical of the work of Jean Abraham Lissignol.Such watches were usually sold by pairs and used to be presented to Oriental Kings and Emperors.The fabulous heart-shaped watches by Piguet & Meylan are to be counted amongst the small group of Swiss automaton and musical objects that may be considered as the most extraordinary and exceptional pieces ever produced; the singing bird pistols and gold cages are other examples in the same genre.Perhaps no more than four other examples of heart-shaped watches are known to exist. One, formerly in the B. Franck Collection, Paris, and illustrated in E. Chapuis, Le Monde des Automates, Vol. II, p. 45, fig. 325, was subsequently in the collection of King Farouk of Egypt and sold in the Palace Collections Sale in 1954 as lot 462 (Sotheby's). Another was in the Gustave Loup Collection, Geneva, and on loan to the Locle Museum in the Château des Monts, another was in the Sir David Salomons Colletion, the location of the fourth one, previously in the Gélis Collection, is not known. The second watch from this pair was sold by Antiquorum in Vicenza on January 18, 1992,lot 250.Continued on pp. 144-145Piguet & MeylanAfter the end of his association with Henri-Daniel Capt, from 1811 to 1828, he formed a new partnership with Philippe Samuel Meylan, another native from his own village. They used to work with the company name Piguet & Meylan, but, working mainly for important English dealers trading with China, most of their watches are not signed, although they carry their trademark: PM in a diamond-shaped frame, punched on the front plate beneath the dial. In 1828, just before the end of their partnership, thir premises were at 45, rue Rousseau in Geneva.Philippe Samuel MeylanBorn February 15, 1772 in Bas-du-Chenit, died in 1845. At20 years old he came to Geneva where he worked for the Godemar Frères in quality of Master worker. Afterwards he went back to Brassus where he founded a little factory in 1811. He then returned to Geneva where he he definitively settled. He met another watchmaker from his own village, Isaac Piguet, with whom he entered into partnership, founding the Piguet & Meylan firm, which would last from 1811 to 1828. It specialised in minute cadratures, musical watches, skeleton or automaton watches, mechaical animals and figures.Isaac Daniel PiguetBorn in Chenit in 1775, died in Geneva in 1841. Very skilful watchmaker, he entered into partnership firstly with Henry Capt, from 1802 to 1811, then with Samuel Philippe Meylan, another watchmaker from the same village, until 1828. Their works were signed or marked PM within a lozenge. After 1828, he went on with his activities with his son, either under the name of Piguet & Fils, or under that of I. D. Piguet & Cie. Their creations were for a large part made for the Chinese Market. It is toldthat an important collector from Sidney bought a large quantity of watches and other musical and automaton objects of virtu, but the boat which carried the pieces was shipwrecked in the middle of the Indian Ocean.Jean Abraham Lissignol(born in Geneva on May 1749, died in Plainpalais on June 28, 1819).Very fine enameller, he was the pupil of Jean-Marc Roux and became his partner. Specialised on snuffboxes and watch cases, he worked for Jaquet-Droz and Leschot, the Rochat Brothers and John Rich.Jean-Georges RémondGeneva, goldsmith, active from 1783 to 1815-20.Master goldsmith 22 December 1783 and struck his first Master mark. Seven years later he appears to have formed a company: Georges Rémond & Cie., which eventually became circa 1800, Rémond, Mercier, Lamy & Cie. During the French occupation of Switzerland by Napoléon, J.-G. Rémond recorded marks which were in accordance with the laws of the newly formed Département of Léman, i.e. his initials within a lozenge. From 1815 to 1820, the firm Lamy, Rémond, Mercier, Daniel Berton, used a similar mark,ut no longer enclosed by a lozenge. It seems that Rémond retired or died during this partnership, since in 1820 a new firm of Mercier, Blondel and Berton was formed. However this new company only lasted a further seven years, until 14 April 1827.Rémond's different Master marks: between laurel branches, circa 1780 - 1790. with a crown above, circa 1790 - 1800. circa 1800 - 1810. in a lozenge, circa 1810 - 1815. 1815, before 1820.