Objects destined for the export to China were often made in pairs, the decoration identical but mirror-imaged so that they would face each other when displayed. According to tradition, this unusual habit had two reasons, one symbolic and one practical: the Chinese love for symmetry represented also by the lucky number "2", suggesting harmonious coexistence and, to some extent, reproduction, and the popular Chinese proverb stating "good things come in pairs". The practical aspect was the availability of a substitute - should one of the items need to be returned to Europe for repair for example, a process likely to take several months at the time, there was still its "twin" left to embellish ones' home. Often used as offering from a European dignitary to a Chinese dignitary, absolutely no effort was spared in the manufacture of these unprecedented, veritable marvels made to please the Chinese mandarins.
The present pair of mirror-image duplex watches made by the celebrated manufacturer Bovet of Fleurier is a very fine and rare example of such object. Of highest quality and with perfectly mirror-imaged floral decoration, another most noteworthy particularity is the fact that the two watches are identically numbered, 522 in the case backs and on the movements.
The identical numbering of pairs of watches, sometimes with the addition of a dot after the number of the second piece of the pair, is a characteristic of watches made in the Val-de-Travers, notably Bovet. For a description of this system and illustration of a pair of Bovet “Chinese” watches with flower decoration and identical numbering see The Mirror of Seduction - Prestigious pairs of "Chinese" Watches, Patek Philippe Museum, edition 2010, pp. 128 & 129.
It is however extremely rare that such pairs have survived the tumultuous times of the last two centuries and appear in public.
Another pair of Bovet's flower decorated "Chinese" watches is illustrated in La Montre Chinoise by Alfred Chappuis, p. 199.