The following two watches, lots 146 and 147, are fine examples of the extraordinary timepieces made by the celebrated watch- and clockmaker James Cox for his Chinese clientele, often by special order. They feature all the ingredients favoured by the Oriental connoisseur, such as sumptuously decorated gold cases and complicated movements incorporating repeating mechanisms.
The 18th century watch- and clockmaker and entrepreneur James Cox (1723-1788) is particularly reputed for his work destined to the Chinese market. His lavish watches and automaton clocks were often presented to the Chinese Emperor Qian Long as a gift. Several of these timepieces can still be found in the collection of the Museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing (see also Timepieces, The Forbidden City Publishing House).
Initially a manufacturer, James Cox then became an entrepreneur following the success of his automaton clocks, oriental clocks and watches, appealing mainly to customers from China, India and the Far East. His lavishly decorated luxury pieces enjoyed enormous success in these regions and consequently, James Cox concentrated on these markets. This trade added considerably to his reputation, to such an extent and so successfully that, by 1770, he owned a company with several hundred employees.
Today, exceptional clocks and watches from the workshops of James Cox can be found in the world's most distinguished collections and museums.