The first automatons appeared in Geneva in the late 18th century, small technical marvels imitating the movements of living creatures or beings, ranging from simpler "Bras en l'Air" figures whose arms would indicate the time to incredibly complex works such as pastoral, theatre or other scenes. Some of these automata were fitted with repeating or musical mechanisms and were highly appreciated works of art not only in Europe but also by Chinese and Ottoman dignitaries.
The present watch is a fine example of such an automaton watch most likely made in Geneva around 1820, featuring four automatons: the seesaw rocking up and down, the boy standing on top of it moving its hips to keep balance while simultaneously a stream of water is realistically flowing out of the fountain and the windmill's vanes are turning.
The varicoloured gold scene is of exquisite quality and impresses by the finely carved details, enhanced by the finely painted enamel background lakeside view, demonstrating the celebrated art of enamel miniatures originating from Geneva in the early 19th century.
Different automaton watches are illustrated and described in Le Monde des Automates by Chapuis & Gélis, Vol. II, pp. 36 - 68.