With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with miniature portrait of Henri II on cream-coloured enamel, surrounded by rose-cut diamonds, in 1890 and its subsequent sale on 29 August 1983.
This watch has never been offered in public before. With its 7 lignes movement it is amongst the smallest watches with a cylinder movement and furthermore the smallest example featuring a hunter case and enamel miniature made by Patek Philippe known to date.
The company's smallest watch with a diameter of only 9.023 mm. and a 4 lignes keywound cylinder movement was exhibited at the London World Exhibition in 1851 (see Patek Philippe Pocketwatches by M. Huber & A. Banbery, p. 106, pl. 13). The second smallest example featuring a keyless 5 lignes cylinder movement was manufactured in 1893 and numbered 97'332. The possibly third smallest example with a keyless 6 lignes lever movement no. 97'364, manufactured in 1893, was sold in this saleroom on 18 May 2004 for SFr. 59,750 (lot 87).
The rarity of the present watch is further enhanced by the miniature enamel portrait featuring a portrait of Henri II on its cover, confirmed by the Extract from the Archives, as well as its excellent, original overall condition. The enamel is of highest craftsmanship and has been executed by a master of the fine art of miniature portraits.
Henry II (Henri II in French), 1519-59, King of France (1547-59), son of King Francis I
Henry's robust physique contrasted with his weak and pliant disposition; throughout his reign he was governed by de Duke de Montmorency, by his mistress Diane de Poitiers, and by François and Charles de Guise. He renewed the struggle against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain), allying himself with the German Protestants despite his own strong Catholicism. War continued under Charles's son King Philip II of Spain, who was allied with Mary Tudor of England, until the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) ended French pretensions in Italy. In 1558, Calais was conquered from the English. Henry issued a series of increasingly severe edicts against the Protestants and established more firmly the absolute royal power. His queen, Catherine de' Medici, to which he was married in 1533, an arranged marriage when both were 14 years old, played a minor role during her husband's reign. Henry II was an avid participant in jousting tournaments, a passion which would lead to his death. During a jousting tournament which he had arranged to celebrate the Peace Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis and to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth of Valois to King Philip II of Spain, his eye was accidentally pierced by a sliver that penetrated the brain, from the shattered lance of Gabriel de Montgomery. The injury was terrible and Henry II died an agonizing death despite the efforts of the royal surgeon Ambroise Pare on 10 July 1559. He was succeeded by his son Francis II.