Louis Prévost. A rare and early gilt metal pair cased astronomical verge watch
Louis Prévost. A rare and early gilt metal pair cased astronomical verge watch


Louis Prévost. A rare and early gilt metal pair cased astronomical verge watch
Signed Louys Prevost, circa 1660
Gilt-finished verge movement, chain fusée, pierced and engraved scroll and foliage decorated balance cock and foot, large three arm balance, vase-shaped pillars, chased gilt dial, three subsidiary dials with engraved silver rings, blued steel index pointers and centred by rosettes, indicating lunar age with inner revolving engraved star and moon phase disc, date and time, three apertures for the signs of the zodiac, times of the day, days of the month and corresponding season, plain circular inner case, finely engraved scroll and foliage decorated outer case, movement signed
49 mm. & 57 mm. diams.

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Lot Essay

Louys or Louis Prévost was active in Saumur, France, in the mid 17th century. For a black and white archival image of a similar astronomical watch signed Louis Prévost see Tardy's Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français, p. 537.

The present watch is a fine example of a so-called "montre à mouvement de lune" or "watch with moon movement" as they were called in the 17th century.

These watches were the successors of the astronomical clocks and spheres made in 16th century Germany and France. Spheres were astronomical clocks on which, thanks to an ingenious device, one could follow the cycles of the stars and their passing through the different signs of the zodiac. The first sphere was made in 1504 by Julien Coudray of Blois, watchmaker of Louis XII and François I, table clocks with astronomical indications manufactured thereafter were common devices in the 16th century.

The first astronomical pocketwatch appeared in the early 17th century and is attributed to Anthoine Arlaud, made bourgeois of Geneva in 1617 and who trained in 1626, the French watchmaker Anthoine Dagoneau in the manufacture of "watches with alarm clocks and celestial movements".

In the years to follow, astronomical watches were further improved, the most complicated ones, such as the present watch, featuring a variety of indications, gaining enormous popularity particularly amongst Ottoman clients who ordered watches in, for the period, enormous quantities.

Examples of these extraordinary timepieces can be found in the world's most important museums and collections, notably the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva and London's Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum.

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