The Egyptians are first known to have made use of niello in design, an artistic concept that eventually reached the European continent during the Middle Ages and gained popularity during the Renaissance on through the 19th century and Niello manifested itself in numerous works, which included watches. By definition niello is a black metallic alloy composed of copper, sulfer, silver and oftentimes lead and is used to create high contrast by filling in hollow spaces in metal that has been cut to make the design more visible.
The present watch not only represents the artisty of watchmaking with its niello design but is also a fine example of functionality in timekeeping as a clockwatch. A clockwatch or sonnerie, as it is more formally known, relies on two barrels and gear trains, one of which is used for the time display and the other for the striking of the time. A clockwatch strikes for the time as it passes. Several types of clockwatches exist, the most common being the petite sonnerie, which strikes for the hour as it passes, and again for the quarter hour without repeating the hour again. On the other hand the most complicated clockwatch is the grande and petite sonnerie timepiece. Watches with the grande sonnerie feature will strike for the hour and quarter hour in passing but the quarter hour will chime with a double blow for each quarter (one time for the first quarter, two times for the second quarter and three times for the third quarter). These timepieces typically have the ability to be set to either grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie or silent. They are highly complicated and difficult to make and are therefore quite rare.