The present watch is one of the exceedingly rare examples of Bovet’s « English » timepieces made for the Chinese market to appear in public. Although entirely manufactured in Switzerland the inversed signature “Tevob” for “Bovet”, the mention London and the imitation of English hallmarks were made in the aim to please the firm’s Chinese clientele particularly fond of watches made in England.
The superb quality of the enamel decoration illustrates the celebrated art of enamel miniatures originating from Geneva in the early 19th century. It was not unusual during that period that an artist would sign his work.
The appeal of the present watch is further enhanced by the rare addition of a musical movement and its very good, original overall condition.
For an example of another watch signed “Tevob” for Bovet see La Montre Chinois by Alfred Chappuis, p. 77.
The history of the celebrated Chinese market watches signed Bovet Fleurier began with the Swiss master watchmaker Edouard Bovet (1797-1849). Born in Fleurier, the 21 year old Edouard arrived in Canton in 1818 and almost immediately sold four watches for 10,000 Francs, over one million US dollars today. He consequently decided to stay in Canton where he established in 1822 a trading company in partnership with his brothers, the firm founded by charter in London the same year.
Very soon, the name "Bo Wei" or "Bo-vay" became synonymous for "watch" and in the turmoil of late Manchu China, Bovet watches spread throughout the country as a medium of exchange. In the meantime, their hometown Fleurier in the Val-de-Travers had become the European centre for the manufacture of Chinese watches, with several brands dedicated only to that flourishing market.
Bovet's production of high quality watches made in Switzerland for the Imperial Chinese market was a resounding success. "Chinese watches" as they were soon called were elaborately decorated pocket watches, generally sold in symmetrically opposed pairs. Their gold cases often featured enamel miniatures painted by the most celebrated artists of the time, cloisonné and champlevé decorations and pearl-set borders. Bovet further specialized in the art of engraving and skeletonizing movements, hence enhancing the appeal of his high-end Chinese watches with its Mandarin customers.