This skeleton clock is a magnificent example of the enameled timepieces that first appeared in the early 1790s in this form. The movement is signed by a largely unrecorded maker, while the enamel bears the signature of one of the greatest émailleurs of the period. Joseph Coteau (1740 - 1801) supplied dials for the great clockmakers of France. He became maître in 1778 and maître-peintre-émailleur at the Académie de St.-Luc in Geneva in 1766 and moved to Paris in 1772, where he was installed in the rue Poupie. He claimed to have found a method 'd'appliquer solidement l'or marié avec les émaux de toutes couleurs sur la porcelaine', the 'jewelled' effect on porcelain and enamel, and by 1780 his name first appears in the kiln records at Sèvres. By 1784 his production at Sèvres was considerable, receiving 4520 livres for executed commissions.
A similar clock case is in the collections of Pavlovsk Palace, in the Second Communicating Study (see E. Ducamp, ed., Pavlovsk: The Palace and Park, Paris, 1993, p. 143). The collections of Pavlovsk are particularly rich in late 18th century ormolu objects, most purchased in Paris during the celebrated, but unofficial, 1782 visit of the Comte and Comtesse du Nord, who were also known as the Grand Duke Paul and his consort, Grand Duchess Marie Feodorovna.