ATTRIBUTED TO PIGUET & CAPT. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE 18K PINK GOLD, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET RECTANGULAR-SHAPED KEYWOUND QUARTER REPEATING RING WATCH WITH AUTOMATON, ADJUSTABLE SHANK AND ORIGINAL FITTED BOX AND PURPOSE-MADE KEY
ATTRIBUTED TO PIGUET & CAPT. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE 18K PINK GOLD, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET RECTANGULAR-SHAPED KEYWOUND QUARTER REPEATING RING WATCH WITH AUTOMATON, ADJUSTABLE SHANK AND ORIGINAL FITTED BOX AND PURPOSE-MADE KEY
ATTRIBUTED TO PIGUET & CAPT. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE 18K PINK GOLD, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET RECTANGULAR-SHAPED KEYWOUND QUARTER REPEATING RING WATCH WITH AUTOMATON, ADJUSTABLE SHANK AND ORIGINAL FITTED BOX AND PURPOSE-MADE KEY
9 More
ATTRIBUTED TO PIGUET & CAPT. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE 18K PINK GOLD, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET RECTANGULAR-SHAPED KEYWOUND QUARTER REPEATING RING WATCH WITH AUTOMATON, ADJUSTABLE SHANK AND ORIGINAL FITTED BOX AND PURPOSE-MADE KEY
12 More
ATTRIBUTED TO PIGUET & CAPT. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE 18K PINK GOLD, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET RECTANGULAR-SHAPED KEYWOUND QUARTER REPEATING RING WATCH WITH AUTOMATON, ADJUSTABLE SHANK AND ORIGINAL FITTED BOX AND PURPOSE-MADE KEY

UNSIGNED, THE SHANK STAMPED WITH THE FRENCH IMPORT MARK FOR 1809-1819, CIRCA 1810

Details
ATTRIBUTED TO PIGUET & CAPT. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE 18K PINK GOLD, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET RECTANGULAR-SHAPED KEYWOUND QUARTER REPEATING RING WATCH WITH AUTOMATON, ADJUSTABLE SHANK AND ORIGINAL FITTED BOX AND PURPOSE-MADE KEY
UNSIGNED, THE SHANK STAMPED WITH THE FRENCH IMPORT MARK FOR 1809-1819, CIRCA 1810
Movement: gilt-finished rectangular-shaped, one going barrel and one fixed repeating barrel, quarter repeating with two hammers on a single bell, cylinder escapement located within the bell,
Dial: eccentric white enamel, Breguet numerals, finely painted polychrome enamel surround in the classical style depicting a château in an idyllic rural landscape, surmounted by two putti, their pink gold and enamel automaton arms alternately striking the hours and quarters onto two small stylised bells in unison with the repeating, centred by an aperture revealing the diamond-set balance with four curved arms,
Case: rectangular with canted corners, diamond-set bezel, repeating slide in the engraved band, back secured by four screws in the band, sliding cover for winding and hand-set apertures, finely engraved floral decorated shank with triangular-shaped shoulders, the shank size enlarged by depressing a pin in the band of the left shoulder, 22 mm. wide, 35 mm. long, the shank stamped with the French import mark for 1809 – 1819
With: original fitted green presentation box with concealed compartment containing a contemporary purpose-made key of spiral pattern
Remarks: One-of-a-kind ring watch, quarter repeating, two automatons, enamel scene, exquisitely made

Brought to you by

Alexandre Bigler
Alexandre Bigler Vice President, Head of Watches, Asia Pacific

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Lot Essay

A treasured part of an important private collection for the past decade, this extraordinary complicated ring watch was unknown publicly until 2011 when it was acquired by the present owner. An incredible feat of miniaturized mechanics combined with the art of the jeweller and enamellist, it is the only ring watch known to have the mechanism for the watch and quarter repeating automaton fitted within the confines of such a small space.

The movement, highly impressive because of its complexity and small size, is remarkable for its conception, design and execution. It is made in the manner of the renowned watchmakers and goldsmiths Isaac Daniel Piguet (1775-1841) and Henry Capt (1773-1841), in partnership from 1802-1811.

Only a handful of ring watches with complications have appeared on the open market to date, and all have been unique pieces in their own right. Amongst these exceedingly scarce specimens, the present ring watch occupies a very special position: it features a particularly rare and unusual characteristic of a quarter repeating mechanism combined with two automatons in the form of two cupids in whose arms are striking the past hours and quarters alternately on two small bells atop the dial. Moreover, not only are the bezel and the visible balance diamond-set but, for a ring watch, the dial has the exceptional feature of having a painted scene. In summary, this previously unrecorded automaton and repeating ring watch must be considered one of the most outstanding examples of its kind ever to have come to light.

Since their first appearance in the 16th century, ring watches have always been emanating great fascination, be it because of their decorative aspect, be it the horological tour de force needed to construct a perfectly functioning movement of, for the period, such small size to be set into a piece of jewellery. Production of these extraordinary pieces required exceptional skills and was therefore exclusively executed by the best watchmakers, jewellers and enamellers of the time, these masterworks reserved for their most distinguished and wealthy clientele.

Particularly en vogue between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries, these ring watches represented an alternative to traditional jewellery. Their shapes varied from round and oval to rectangular, the bezels of the most luxurious examples were decorated with pearls or diamonds, those with the addition of a complication with off-centred dials allowing space for a visible balance or, even rarer, an automaton scene, some with an automaton but no repeating, some with no time indication.

The finely painted enamel scene and the lavish case with its diamond-set bezel, sliding cover for winding and hand-set apertures and finely engraved adjustable shank are exemplary for the high quality work for which Geneva's enamellers, goldsmiths and jewellers enjoyed worldwide fame already at the time.

Provenance:
Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 November 2011, ‘The Property of an Important European Collector’, lot 3569

Literature:
For a black and white illustration of a ring watch with two jaquemarts (Vacheron & Constantin Collection, Geneva), see: Le Monde des Automates II by Chapuis & Gélis, p. 5, pl. 294, rings with musical automatons on p. 44 op. cit., pl. 312 (Sir David Salomons Collection, London) & 313. A ring-watch with time indication only is illustrated and described in: Pocket Watches by Reinhard Meis, p. 152, pl. 291.

A quarter repeating ring-watch of rectangular form, visible balance and comparable quarter repeating movement, however without automaton, is described and illustrated in Watches & Clocks in the Sir David Salomons Collection by George Daniels & Ohannes Markarian, p. 143.

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