The present watch is a particularly fine example of a timepiece made for the Chinese market. Manufactured by one of Switzerland's most celebrated watchmakers of the time, Vaucher of Fleurier, it impresses by its exquisite enamel work, imitating cloisonné enamel. This uncommon and laborious method required a highly skilled gold chaser to carve the metal, creating the desired motif by leaving only the fine contour lines, the aspect comparable to cloisonné. The cells were then decorated with the desired images by a combination of enamel painting and vitreous enamel.
This technique was the speciality of Charles-Henri Vaucher, used to decorate his finest timepieces destined for the export to China.
Charles-Henri Vaucher, born 1793, played an important role in the introduction of Chinese market watches to Fleurier. Located in the centre of Fleurier he opened a branch in London, around 1820, from where he supplied watches also to the celebrated William Ilbery. In 1838, Vaucher sent a number of watches, some enamelled, to Canton. This attracted the attention of Louis Bovet who mentioned them in a letter to his uncle Edouard.
A drawing showing Charles-Henri Vaucher's house in the centre of Fleurier, around 1830, is prominently illustrated in La Montre Chinoise by Alfred Chapuis, p. 184.
For a pair of watches with comparable enamel decoration and movement, however signed by William Ilbery, see The Mirror of Seduction - Prestigious pairs of "Chinese" Watches, Patek Philippe Museum, pp. 94 & 95.
The Vaucher watchmakers of Fleurier
The Vaucher families were decisive in the introduction and development of Fleurier's watch industry, specializing in the manufacture of pocketwatches. In 1750, 28 different Vaucher families were living in Fleurier and although sharing a common ancestor, the members did not consider themselves as closely related. The difference between the families was marked by adding a wedding name or location such as "Vaucher sur-les-Moulins", "Vaucher du Guilleri", "Vaucher-de-la-Croix" or "Vaucher-Ferrier".
Watches with automatons, lavishly decorated cases especially made for aristocratic customers and engraved with Vaucher signature are important witnesses for the work of these gifted watchmakers in Fleurier, Geneva, London and Paris, and are considered highlights in museums or private collections and at public auctions.