• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7442

    Jewellery

    12 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 111

    THE ART DECO MYSTERY CLOCK 'LE CIEL', BY CARTIER

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    THE ART DECO MYSTERY CLOCK 'LE CIEL', BY CARTIER
    The blue transparent dial with rose-cut diamond planetary detail, shooting star hands, Roman and star-shaped mother-of-pearl hour markers supported by two jade and red coral dolphins resting on a rock crystal and obsidian base, mechanical movement, made in 1928, 21.5 cm high, with French assay mark for silver gilt (illustrated reduced)
    Base signed Cartier, Paris Londres New York, Nos. 0763, 1387 and 3266; movement No. 3266


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The art of illusion fascinates adults and children alike. We are all spellbound when magicians deceive the eye with slight of hand and deft trickery, believing they achieve the impossible while knowing perfectly well that it is just magic. Maurice Couët, whose knowledge in the trade was matched by few, perfected the art of illusion in the mystery clocks that Cartier offered, beginning in 1913 with the Model A. Based on the 'pendules mystérieuses' from the 19th century, a selection of which was exhibited at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the mechanism of these clocks is hidden in the frame so that the hands seem to float in space without any connection to the movement. Rather than moving by conventional clockmaking techniques, the hands are set into two rotating crystal discs with toothed metal rims that are propelled by gears in the clock case.

    Since every part of the clock was hand-made, each one took from three to twelve months to finish; employing not only the watchmaker but also the designer, the 'orfèvre-boîtier', the enameler, the lapidary, the setter, the engraver and the polisher.

    However, not only were these mystery clocks an astonishing technical achievement but they were also of extraordinarily imaginative design as best showcased in the 'Le Ciel' mystery clock offered here.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A LADY