With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with enamel dial, small seconds and engraved portraits of de Mickiewicz and Lord Byron to the covers in 1858 and its subsequent sale on 11 November 1859.
This watch is an extremely rare and very early example featuring not only the most efficient and, still today, most usual variation of the crown winding system invented by Adrien Philippe but also the engraved portraits of two of the most famous poets of all time, Adam de Mickiewicz and Lord Byron. Evidently made for Polish admirer of Poetry, its cuvette is signed "Wynalezli i Zrobili w Genewie", Polish for "Invented and Manufactured in Geneva".
Until the middle of the 19th century, pocket watches had to be wound and set with a key which fitted into holes either in the case or in the dial. Through these holes, dirt could penetrate the movements, the keys were lost, and for nearly 250 years, no watchmaker had found a practical solution to this problems.
Adrien Philippe's invention of the modern winding and setting stem and crown (pull out to set, push in to wind), French patent No. 1317 of 1845, was more than a clever mechanism. It changed the nature of watches and allowed the evolution from the keyless watch to today's waterproof wristwatch.
He continued the development and perfection of crown and stem winding and setting for almost 20 years. By the time he filed his final patent on the matter in 1861, in France (as the only official patent office was in Paris at that time), the first had already expired, and his idea was in current use.
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 - 19 April 1824)
Commonly known simply as Lord Byron, he was a British poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among Byron's best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and the short lyric She Walks in Beauty. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.
Byron, like many geniuses led an unstructured and adventurous life, full of various amorous adventures across Europe. In the summer of 1816 he settled at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with his personal physician John William Polidori. There Byron befriended the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley's future wife Mary Godwin, and was also joined by Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, with whom he had had an affair in London. Kept indoors at the Villa Diodati by the "incessant rain" of "that wet, ungenial summer" over three days in June, the five turned to reading fantastical stories, including Fantasmagoriana, and then devising their own tales. Mary Shelley produced what would later become "Frankenstein", or "The Modern Prometheus", and Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron's, "Fragment of a Novel", to produce "The Vampyre", the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre.
Interestingly, Christie's first "house sale" in Switzerland on 30 September and 1st October 1996 took place at the Villa Diodati, famous for its association with Lord Byron. By extraordinary coincidence, shortly after the house sale at the Villa Diodati, Christie's also dispersed the contents of another famous residence of Lord Byron, the Palazzo Mocenigo on the Grand Canal in Venice where Lord Byron installed himself immediately after his stay at the Villa Diodati.
Following his short sojourn in Switzerland Lord Byron spent seven years in Italy and then joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died one year later at age 36 from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi in Greece.
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (24 December 1798 - 26 November 1855
The Polish poet, dramatist, essayist, publicist, translator, professor of Slavic literature, and political activist, is regarded as national poet in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. A principal figure in Polish Romanticism, he is counted one of Poland's "Three Bards" and is widely considered as Poland's greatest poet as well as one of the greatest Slavic and European poets. A leading Romantic dramatist, he has been compared in Poland and Europe to Goethe, Schiller and Lord Byron, some of whose verses he even translated.
Mickiewicz was born in the Russian-partitioned territories of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which had been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and was active in the struggle to win independence for his home region. After, as a consequence, spending five years exiled to central Russia, in 1829 he succeeded in leaving the Russian Empire and, like many of his compatriots, lived out the rest of his life abroad. He settled first in Rome, then in Paris, where for a little over three years he lectured on Slavic literature at the Collège de France. He died, probably of cholera, in exile in Istanbul, in 1855, where he had gone to help organize Polish and Jewish forces to fight Russia in the Crimean War, leaving behind an extensive literary legacy.
In 1890 his remains were repatriated from Montmorency, Val-d'Oise, in France, to Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, Poland.