Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces

Geneva, May 14, 2017

LOT 209

AUTOMATON RING Attributed to Isaac Daniel Piguet, Geneve, circa 1800. Very fine, rare and important 18K gold and enamel pearl-set keyless musical automaton ring.

CHF 15,000 - 25,000

HKD 120,000 - 200,000 / USD 15,000 - 25,000

Sold: CHF 65,000

Rectangular top with canted corners, half pearl-set bezel, lightly engraved flat band and back with a slot for winding lever, fluted shank extending at the top. The top of the ring rectangular with canted corners, three-colored gold animated scene depicting a lady playing hurdy-gurdy, She is accompanied by a gentleman playing the violin, with a dog at his feet,applied on finely painted and overglazed enamel panel panel depicting a drawing room in the background. Rectangular with canted corners, 27.4 x 14.4 mm., brass ful plate, pinned drum with five tuned teeth, rack winding, six-wheel train, last pinion in eccentric bushing for tempo control, automaton driven from a spring-loaded lever acting on pentagonal cam fixed to the first wheel arbor (after the pinned barrel).

Click to full view

Grading System
Case: 3



Signed on the movement in a manner typical of I .D. Piguet. DIM. TOP: 34 X 22 mm. ISAAC DANIEL PIGUET Born in 1775 in Le Chenit, Isaac Daniel Piguet married Jeanne Françoise Capt around 1795, and around 1800 settled in Geneva with his family. Piguet was associated with his brother-in-law Henry Daniel Capt, from 1802 to 1811, and with Philippe Samuel Meylan from 1811 to 1828. Piguet and his son David Auguste established the company "Piguet père & fils" at no. 69 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Piguet died in Geneva, on January 20, 1841, at the age of 66. One of those small objects of vertu for which Isaac Daniel Piguet and later Piguet & Capt. became famous. At the beginning of the 19th century he was the major maker of small musical objects. In fact, since they were new and most of them were made by Piguet, Genevians thought that he was also an inventor of them. They were not the only ones that were mistaken.All sorts of horological objects including fantasy objects were subject to miniaturization, among them musical watches and boxes. Prior to 1770 they required bulky bells, which seriously limited miniaturization. In 1769 Michel Joseph Ransonnet of Nancy presented the French Academy of Sciences with a new invention for mechanical music. Instead of bells he used vibrating blades. He did not make many watches, or at least not many have survived. We know of only one, now in the Patek Philippe Museum,(formerly in the Time Museum). The system was revolutionary, utilizing small blades which were set into vibration by a pinned cylinder, the same type which previously controlled the hammers striking the bells. Interestingly, the invention was then forgotten for thirty years, until, according to the report of the Geneva Society for the Arts, dated February 15, 1796, one Antoine Favre presented a new invention of mechanical music without bells or gongs.Though Favre in all likelihood invented the system independently of Ransonnet, it was the same system. This was to revolutionize Geneva's musical horology as well as the art of making objects of vertu. The miniaturization achieved due to the Ransonnet/Favre invention was tremendously important at the time, especially for the Swiss, who were the major manufacturers of musical movements. It enabled them to make small musical instruments that had never been seen before. From the King's Faruk collection