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    Sale 1357

    Important Watches

    17 November 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 374

    Henri Motel. A fine silver openface two train independent dead seconds cylinder watch


    Price Realised  


    Henri Motel. A fine silver openface two train independent dead seconds cylinder watch
    Signed Henri Motel à Paris, No. 238, sold in 1840
    Gilt-finished two train ruby cylinder movement, plain three arm brass balance, gilt cuvette, white enamel dial, Roman numerals, independent centre seconds, plain circular case, pink gold hinges, seconds stop/start lever in the band, cuvette signed
    56 mm. diam.

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    With photocopies of Henri Motel's "Nécrologie" or Obituary published in the 1861 "Revue chronomètrique de la Chambre Syndicale de l'Horlogerie de Paris", pp. 79 - 82.

    According to the workbooks of Henri Motel, the present watch was part of a series of eight independent dead seconds watches with silver cases sold to His Majesty, the King of Naples, on 7 October 1840 for the amount of 800 Francs (see La Longitude en mer à l'heure de Louis Berthoud et Henri Motel by Jean-Claude Sabrier, pp. 655-658).

    Jean-François Henri Motel (1786-1857)
    Louis Berthoud's most famous student Jean-François Henri Motel was born on 31 December 1786 in Margny-les-Compiègnes, France. His father Louis Nicolas Motel was a farmer and innkeeper. After elementary school, Henri entered the Prytanée College in 1794 followed by the Ecole des Arts et Métiers at Chalons where he remained as a boarding student from Year XI of the Republic to 1 Vendémaire of Year XIV (1806), date at which he obtained the rank of Cadet, by decision of the Minister of the Interior. In accordance with the Imperial Decree of 1804 regarding the training of Naval Clockmakers, he was chosen on 7 March 1806 "To go to Paris and learn the art of clockmaking at Government expense, at the establishment of M. Louis Berthoud, Clockmakers to the Navy."

    Upon completion of his training on 14 August 1813, Henri Motel received a certificate of capacity from the administrator of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, confirming that "he is well enough instructed to be able to make marine watches, with all the care required by these kinds of time keepers, that he acquired the respect of the famous clockmaker who had taken the trouble to train him, and that he had made himself worthy, in all ways, of his Majesty's beneficence". Shortly after, Louis Berthoud died suddenly and his widow asked Henri to manage the workshop and complete the education of the two sons.

    Motel left the Berthoud brothers in 1817 but continued finishing Berthoud's stock of watches and chronometers for the Navy, left unfinished upon the latter's sudden death.

    In 1823, he set up his own business at 12 rue de l'Abbaye in Paris. At the Exhibition of Products of French Industry in 1827 he exhibited for the first time and was awarded a silver medal for his chronometers and astronomical clocks. According to the Central Jury "no-one makes clocks with more precision than M. Motel". At the 1834 Exhibition, he was awarded a gold medal, confirmed at the 1839 exhibition.

    Second Sub-Lieutenant of the National Guard on 7 January 1832, first Sub-Lieutenant on 29 March 1834, first Lieutenant on 3 May 1837, Motel was named Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur by Royal Order dated 1828.

    In 1857, he retired to his property at La Chapelle en Serval, where he died on 10 November 1859.

    For a marine chronometer signed Auguste Berthoud see lot 382 in this auction.


    Listed in La Longitude en mer à l'heure de Louis Berthoud et Henri Motel by Jean-Claude Sabrier, pp. 655-658.