The present watch is an exceptionally fine example of a complicated timepiece made by Louis Audemars for his faithful client, the house of Le Roy located in Paris and London, incorporating the very rare and unusual feature of a barometer combined with a minute repeating mechanism and a triple calendar.
The case is stamped with Louis Audemars' shield-shaped hallmarks, one inscribed "Brassus", one featuring a dog's head and capital letters L.A. for Louis Audemars above the double cross of Lorraine (see Louis-Benjamin Audemars - His Life and Work by Hartmut Zantke, pp. 182 - 187).
The celebrated watch manufacture was founded in 1811 by Louis-Benjamin Audemars (1782-1833) and his sons in Le Brassus, Switzerland. Louis-Benjamin was one of Switzerland's most eminent watchmakers, a creative genius, perfectionist and immensely hard worker. Following his apprenticeship with Philippe Samuel Meylan he worked for about two years as a "master pupil" for Breguet before establishing his own company. After Louis-Benjamin's death in 1833 his sons continued the business until 1885 when the firm was liquidated.
The manufacture made high quality pocket watches and invented various systems, notably a crown winding and hand setting mechanism in 1838; between 1838 and 1845, around 41 movements fitted with this invention were delivered to Patek in Geneva. Some of Louis Audemars' watches are among the most complicated timepieces ever made and were awarded with the highest distinctions at several 19th Century World Exhibitions.
During the 74 years of existence, the manufacture produced only some 9,000 watches corresponding to an average of 120 watches a year.
Leroy & Son
The Leroy dynasty of famous watchmakers was founded in 1751 by Charles Leroy, watchmaker to the King and renowned chronometer maker. After his death in 1771, the firm based at Paris' prestigious Palais Royal continued commerce under different leadership.
In 1854, "Le Roy & Son" was established in London, enjoying great success under its manager who was well known to the London upper classes and reputed to be close to the queen herself. Shortly afterwards, a second boutique was opened in New Bond Street. Officially appointed Watchmaker to Queen Victoria in 1863 (a great honour at that time for any foreign company, particularly a French one), Le Roy & Sons delivered a large number of unique pieces to the court engraved For the Queen.
Le Roy & Fils was present at all the national and European exhibitions, from Madrid to Vienna, London and Paris, collecting prizes, an impressive number of medals for progress, gold medals and other distinctions.
Louis Leroy, Horloger de la Marine, started as a watchmaker for the company in 1879 and took over the business with Jules Desfontaines, changing the firm's name to L. Leroy et Cie. Louis' brother Léon Leroy who had joined in 1895 became partner in 1914.