Consigned by a member of a European Noble Family, the present timepiece has been in the same family for several generations, handed on from father to son. It has been well-preserved during its 350 years of existence and maintained in excellent overall condition for its age.
Since the beginning of watchmaking, decoration and design of the case has always been of the greatest importance to the maker. Although its main purpose was the easy readability of the time and the protection of the movement, a timepiece had (and still has) to appeal to a potential buyer and match with the current fashion. When first commercialized in the 16th and 17th centuries, watches could only be afforded by the upper classes, members of the Royal and Noble families and the church. Consequently, the decoration was adapted to their taste.
The present timepiece is a wonderful example of such a watch, made by a watchmaker from Blois, at the time the centre for fine watchmaking and enamelling. Designed as a coach watch and consequently of large size, the present watch shows the typical renaissance floral decoration, highly popular in the first half of the 17th century. For striking clock watches, such as the present watch, the design was engraved onto the case and then pierced to allow the sound to penetrate.
Blois, the capital of the French district Loir-et-Cher, was the favoured residence of the Kings of France during the 16th and 17th centuries and also the residence of Empress Marie-Louise, Napoleon's wife, during the Regency of 1814.
This centralization of the French Kings' activities for over a century resulted in a significant concentration of artists and specialized craftsmen in the city and its surroundings. Originating from Paris as well as other French cities, these artisans contributed enormously to Blois' rich artistic and cultural life.
Jacques Duduict (1599-1645), a gifted watchmaker from Blois, specialized also in the invention and manufacture of solar instruments. In 1631 he published a pamphlet entitled "Le Nouveau Sciataire" about the production of solar watches allowing the determination of the meridian and the height of the pole on sea.
For his short biography and an illustration of a watch signed Jacques Duduict à Blois see Tardy's Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français, p. 197 and Dictionnaire des Horlogers de Blois by Thibaud Fourrier, La Garmoniere, 2000, p. 24.
For an oval striking and alarm watch from the Collection of Prince Soltykoff signed Jacques Duduict see Old Clocks and Watches & their Makers by F.J. Britten, pp. 75 & 76, pl. 65 & 66.
We are indebted to Mr. Arnaud Tellier, Director of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, for his valuable advice on researching the present timepiece.