This automaton watch model, dating from the very beginning of the 19th century, is home to one of the most pleasant scenes imagined at the time. It makes us discover the interior of a kitchen full of charming and funny details.
These watches include, according to the models, an animated scene of five to seven automata on a background always painted differently.
· At the top, on the right, the wheel of a spit is in motion;
· Inside this one, a small mammal hops and trains it;
· Below, on the right, the water of the fountain flows;
· In the centre, a chicken, on its spit, turns and grills in front of a fire;
· Behind, at the bottom of the chimney, the flames crackle;
· On the left, sitting on a chair, a woman grinds with her right arm a mixture in a pestle, placed on her thighs, which she holds with her left arm;
· His foot activates the spit.
From a mechanical point of view, there are three kinds of achievements:
TYPE 1: movement built with fusee and chain and verge escapement
The automata are activated upon request by an independent gear of train with going barrel (triggered by push-bolt on the side of the case). To operate the watch and the scene with automata, there are two barrels to wind (at 6 :30 and 11 o’clock or at 4 :45 and 7 :45). Case diameter: between 57 mm. and 60 mm.
They are usually attributed to Pierre-Simon Gounouilhou (1779-1847), Geneva. Of the ten watches listed to date, some movement numbers are known: 6 108, 8 030, 8 095 and 8 248.
· Jaquet, Eugène, & Chapuis, Alfred (with the collaboration of Berner, G. Albert), Histoire et technique de la montre suisse de ses origines à nos jours, Basel and Olten, 1945, pl. 102 (according to the legend of the illustration, the dial of this watch is signed “Simon Gounouilhou / à Genève”, hence the attribution of this production to this watchmaker).
· Chapuis, Alfred, & Gélis, Edouard, Le Monde des automates. Etude historique et technique, Paris et Neuchâtel, 1928, vol. II, ch. XVII “Montres et Tabatières”, pp. 56-58, ill. 331.
TYPE 2: movement built with going barrel and cylinder escapement
The automata are activated on request by the repetition mechanism; the trigger is therefore operated by pressing on the pendant. To operate the watch and the automaton scene, there is only one barrel to wind (at 2 :30). Fast / Slow sector at 6 o’clock. Case diameter: 61 mm.
Only one watch is listed to date, it is signed by DuBois & Fils, Le Locle (association of watchmakers active in the late-18th century and early-19th century; house founded by Philippe DuBois (1738-1808).
TYPE 3: movement built with fusee and chain and cylinder escapement
The automata are activated on request by the repetition mechanism; the trigger is therefore operated by pressing on the pendant. To operate the watch and the automaton scene, there is only one barrel to wind (at 5 :30). Fast / Slow sector at 12 o’clock. Case diameter: 59 mm.
Only one watch is listed to date, it is signed by Robert & Courvoisier, La Chaux-de-Fonds (association of watchmakers active in the late-18th century and early-19th century; house founded by Josué Robert (1691-1771), “Horloger du Roy de Prusse et de la Cour”. It’s the present watch.