The present lot is a highly unusual and most probably unique example of a watch made by Jules Jürgensen featuring the decimal time system, using the numbers 1 to 0 (instead of X) for the 10 hours and 1 to 100 for the 100 seconds. As confirmed by the copy of the worksheet, it was made for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1867 where it was most certainly exhibited with other masterpieces from Jürgensen's workshop.
Decimal time was introduced during the French Revolution in the decree of 5 October 1793. Like the metric system, the new time measuring system was one of the many reforms undertaken by the National Convention. Although many clocks and watches were produced indicating both standard time with numbers 1-24 and decimal time with numbers 1-10, decimal time never caught on. It was not officially used until the beginning of the Republican year III, 22 September 1794, and was officially suspended on 7 April 1795. The French Republican Calendar, which was introduced at the same time and divided the month into three décades of 10 days each, eventually also fell out of use, and was abolished at the end of 1805.
In 1897 another attempt at the decimalization of time was made when the Bureau des Longitudes created the Commission de décimalisation du temps with the mathematician Henri Poincaré as secretary. The commission proposed a compromise of retaining the 24-hour day, but dividing each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each minute into 100 seconds. The plan did not gain acceptance and was abandoned in 1900.
The decimal time system never proved popular, only a small quantity of such watches was ever made and even fewer have survived to date, making those reappearing in public particularly rare finds.
Exposition Universelle Paris 1867
In 1864, Emperor Napoleon III decreed that an international exposition should be held in Paris in 1867. A commission was appointed with Prince Jérôme Napoléon as president, under whose direction the preliminary work began. The site chosen for the Exposition Universelle was the Champ de Mars, the great military parade ground of Paris, which covered an area of 119 acres (48 ha) and to which was added the island of Billancourt, of 52 acres (21 ha).
The exposition took place from 1 April to 31 October 1867 with 50,226 exhibitors and was attended by 9,238,967 persons (including exhibitors and employees). At the time, the Exposition Universelle was the largest international exhibition ever held.
These world expositions were especially focused on trade and famous for the display of technological inventions and advancements, bringing together state of the art science and technology from around the world.