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    Sale 1348

    Important Pocket Watches and Wristwatches

    12 November 2007, Geneva

  • Lot 207

    Swiss. A very fine and rare 18K gold and enamel musical automaton watch

    UNSIGNED, CIRCA 1810

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Swiss. A very fine and rare 18K gold and enamel musical automaton watch
    Unsigned, circa 1810
    The gilt-finished automaton and musical movement with musical pin drum with stacked tuned teeth, the separate small gilt-finished verge movement for the watch with chain fusée, engraved and pierced balance cock, all set within the especially fitted compartment in the top plate of the automaton and musical movement, small eccentric white enamel dial with Breguet numerals surrounded by a painted polychrome enamel interior view with an applied vari-coloured gold automaton scene depicting a lady playing the xylophone while her standing teacher is conducting the rythm and a small dog is jumping up and down, trying to catch the conductor's baton, all in unison with the music, in plain circular case, music and automaton activated by a sliding lever in the band, case stamped with casemaker's initials G&M
    58 mm. diam.


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    The first automatons appeared in Geneva in the late 18th century, small technical marvels imitating the movements of living creatures or beings, ranging from simpler "Bras en l'Air" figures whose arms would indicate the time to incredibly complex works such as pastoral, theatre or other scenes. Some of these automata were fitted with repeating or musical mechanisms and were highly appreciated works of art not only in Europe but also by Chinese and Ottoman dignitaries.

    The present automaton watch is an exceptional example for the high quality of objects produced by the most eminent craftsmen in Geneva. It is extraordinary for the complexity and ingeniousness of the musical and automaton mechanisms driving two automatons and the small watch movement, separated from the automaton movement and incorporated into its top plate.

    Although only bearing the casemaker's mark G&M, it can be attributed to one of Geneva's renowned automaton makers such as Pierre-Simon Gounouilhou, Louis Duchêne & Fils or Antoine Rojard.