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Patek Philippe. A Fine and Unique 18k Gold Openface Keyless Lever Watch with Enamel Miniature by Mrs. Mercier
Patek Philippe. A Fine and Unique 18k Gold Openface Keyless Lever Watch with Enamel Miniature by Mrs. Mercier

SIGNED PATEK PHILIPPE, GENEVE, REF. 866/73, MOVEMENT NO. 932'671, CASE NO. 433'688, MANUFACTURED IN 1976

Details
Patek Philippe. A Fine and Unique 18k Gold Openface Keyless Lever Watch with Enamel Miniature by Mrs. Mercier
Signed Patek Philippe, Geneve, Ref. 866/73, Movement No. 932'671, Case No. 433'688, Manufactured in 1976
Cal. 17-170 mechanical movement double stamped with the Geneva Seal, 18 jewels, white matte dial, Roman numerals, subsidiary seconds, circular case, snap on back with polychrome enamel miniature depicting Venus and Bacchus, case, dial and movement signed
47mm diam.

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Lot Essay

With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with the enamel scene Bacchus and Venus in 1976 and its subsequent sale on March 16th of 1978.

The use of champlevé enamelling in the Swiss watchmaking industry came back in fashion in the mid-19th century. This craft commonly known as email à jour or plique à jour consists of creating the design without metallic support as seen with cloisonné enamel technique. The champlevé technique is particularly difficult due to multiple firings of the enamel. Each time the piece is heated and cooled, the artist must take into consideration all of the possible color changes as well as damage to the enamel. Each miniature enamel piece can take a year to produce and thus each piece can be considered unique.

Madame Hélène May-Mercier made approximately 20 miniature enamels and several cloisonné dome clocks during her time working for Patek Philippe from the 1970's to the 1990's. Madame May-Mercier along with S. Rohr and G. Menni are considered the most reputable enamel artists in the world.

Reference 866 was launched by Patek Philippe in the early 1970s as a keyless lever open-faced pocket watch. Approximately 150 decorated watches using this reference were made, with the last known examples produced in the 1990s.

The present reference 866/073 depicts an enamel scene of Bacchus and Venus, inspired by a painting by N.N. Coypel.

Noël-Nicolas Coypel, most frequently known as N.N. Coypel, is best known for his mythological compositions. Born in 1690 in France, he was accredited to the Academie Royale in 1716. He was part of a distinguished family of artists, but he never enjoyed the same amount of success as his father, Noël Coypel, or his half-brother, Antoine Coypel. In 1927, his most famous painting, The Abduction of Europa was entered into a competition amongst the twelve leading painters, called to enter by King Louis XV. He did not win, but the painting eventually became the property of Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Emperor Napoleon. In 1734, Coypel received a professorship, but died a year later, at the age of fourty-four.

In Roman mythology, Bacchus (called Dionysus in Greek mythology) was the god of wine and intoxication. He had a brief affair with Venus, the goddess of love. As punishment for her promiscuity, Hera, wife of Zeus and goddess of women and marriage, cursed her with an ugly child, named Priapos.

Coypel's Bacchus and Venus, circa 1726, placed the inebriated Bacchus receiving yet another cup of wine from the naked Venus, while two female attendants are picking grapes and a third is kissing the young cupid. The painting symbolizes the intoxicating power of wine and love, and while the alliance is of two great powers, the emphasis is on the female, as Venus is the hostess entertaining Bacchus.

Similar miniature enamel decorated pocket watches are illustrated in Patek Philippe Pocket Watches by M. Huber & A. Banbery, 1982, pages 167-168.

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