The present watch is a very fine example of a watch made for the Chinese market, distinguished by the sumptuous, beautifully decorated case. It furthermore impresses by its very good, original overall condition.
Charman & Co. were active in London in the first half of the 19th century and specialized in the manufacture of watches for the Chinese market. The firm is mentioned in La Montre Chinoise by Alfred Chapuis, p. 60, chapter "The Luxury Watch": "We will hardly make reference to foreign watchmakers, particularly English, who worked for China at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. We nevertheless mention those whose names are encountered most often: William Anthony, Hughes William, Barraud and Charman. The majority of these masters entertained relationship with Geneva from where they obtained continually a vast part of the richly enamelled cases."
Few information is available on the "watch case maker" Louis Comtesse, located at Soho Square, Middlesex, active in the first half of the 19th century, but he doubtlessly was a highly skilled and talented craftsman. Terence Camerer Cuss states in his tome The English Watch - 1585-1970, p. 379, chapter The Sixth Period, 1825-1970, The Case Makers and their Marks: "The best known maker by far from the beginning of the period is Louis Comtesse (plate 242) who worked in London and used the Goldsmiths' Hall for assays."
His casemaker's initials LC with the distinctive "scroll" or "fish" sign above the L can be found in the cases made for the most celebrated English watchmakers of the time, notably Recordon, Barraud, Fatton, Viner, Barwise and Charman (see also plates 166, 207, 226, 228, 233, 240 and 243 op.cit).
Roger Smith mentions in his article "The Swiss Connection - International Networks in some Eighteen-Century Luxury Trade", Journal of Design History, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2004 a watch made by Recordon London with the Cypher of George III on the case, bought by the King in 1808 for the extraordinary price of £280. The gold case bears the marks of a London case maker, showing that it was sponsored at Goldsmith's Hall by Louis Comtesse of Soho, a leading London watch-case maker who was also a Swiss immigrant.