The present watch is a very fine and exceedingly rare example of a so-called royal presentation watch, set with the portrait of Johann Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg, made for his household and given as gift to dignitaries or friends of his Majesty.
It incorporates a highly unusual time display consisting of a single hand attached to a revolving ring, only seen on one other watch from the same period also signed Simon Mair.
The details of the coat-of-arms on the balance cock are as follows, clockwise from the upper left: Bavaria, Jülich, Kleve and Berg; the Palatinate (Pfalz) to the centre; to the right, again clockwise: Mörs, Veldenz, Mark and Ravensberg.
In relationship to the personality, these coat-of-arms correspond to a date which can be situated around 1709. It is important to note that these are coat-of-arms of pretend as Kleve, Mark, Ravensberg and Mörs never belonged to Johann Wilhelm. Consequently, Johann Wilhelm intend was to become duke of Bavaria, duke of Jülich, prince of Mörs, count of Veldenz, lord of Sponheim, of Mark and of Ravensberg.
The Elector's crown is situated above the two coat-of-arms, the Reichsapfel or Imperial Orb of the roman Germanic Holy Empire in the centre between the coat-of-arms; as Elector, Johann Wilhelm was one of those electing the emperor of the roman germanic Holy Empire.
Johann Wilhelm II, Elector Palatine, also known as Johann Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg ("Jan Wellem" in Low German, English: "John William"), 19 April 1658 - 8 June 1716, was Elector Palatine (1690-1716), Duke Palatine of Neuburg/Danube (1690-1716), Duke of Jülich and Berg (1679-1716), and Duke of Upper Palatinate and Cham (1707-1714). From 1697 onwards Johann Wilhelm was also Count of Megen. He was the son of Philip William of Palatinate-Neuburg and Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt and was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he resided. Johann Wilhelm was educated by the Jesuits and in 1674 he made a grand tour to Italy.
In 1678 he married Maria Anna Josepha, Archduchess of Austria, daughter of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, and his third wife Eleanor of Mantua. After her death, he married Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, the daughter of Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. His brother was Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg, his sisters were married to Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, Peter II of Portugal, and Charles II of Spain.
His father ceded the duchies of Jülich and Berg to him already in 1679 before he finally succeeded him also as Elector of the Palatinate in 1690. In the Peace of Rijswijk (1697), he was restored to many of the possessions which had been taken by the French, with the provision that the Palatinate not revert to Protestantism. This provision did not make him popular in the Palatinate and with Protestants. Influenced by his mistress Dorothea von Velen, Johann Wilhelm proclaimed religious toleration in 1705.
During the war of the Spanish succession Johann Wilhelm received also the Bavarian Upper Palatinate which was returned to Bavaria in 1714.
Johann Wilhelm was very popular in the duchies of Jülich and Berg where he erected impressive buildings such as the Castle of Bensberg. He led a lavish court which gave work to many artists and artisans, notably the painters Eglon van der Neer (1635 or 1636-1703), Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722), Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) and Jan Weenix (164?-1719).
His enormous collection of paintings by the celebrated Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) can still be seen in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. Johann Wilhelm is also known to amateurs of enamelled portrait miniatures as an eminent patron, notably of Charles Boit (1663-1727), Peter Boy (1651-1727), said "The Old", and of Johann Friedrich Ardin (active around 1700/1720). He is the most important sponsor of enamel miniatures of all times in Germany (see Hans Buchheit Katalog der Miniaturbilder im Bayrischen Landesmuseum, 1911).
Johann Wilhelm died in Düsseldorf and was buried in the St. Andreas Church. Having no son, he was succeeded by his brother Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine. Today, the Jan-Wellem Platz in Düsseldorf is named after him. In 2008, important celebrations commemorated the 350th anniversary of this birth.
Sisters and brothers of Johann Wilhelm
Eleonore Magdalene (1655-1720), married in 1676, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia (1657-1705), archduke of Austria and emperor of the roman germanic Holy Empire (1658-1705)
Maria Adelheid Anna, born and died in 1656
Sophia Elisabeth, born in 1657, died in 1658
Wolfgang George Frederik (1659-1683), auxiliary bishop of Cologne
Ludwig Anton (1660-1694), bishop of Worms (1693-1694)
Charles III Philip (1661-1742), his successor and Elector Palatine 1716-1742, married in 1968 princesse Ludwika Karolina Radziwill (widow of prince Ludwing von Brandenburg); then in 1701 princesse Teresa Lubomirska (1683-1712); and finally in 1728/1729 morganatically Countesse Violante Marie Thérèse de Thurn and Taxis (1683-1734)
Alexander Sigismund (1663-1737), bishop of Augsburg (1691-1737)
Franz Ludwig (1664-1732), archbishop and count palatine of Trier (1716-1729) and Mainz (1729-1732)
Frederik Wilhelm (1665-1689), archpriest of the Cathedral of Münster Maria Sophia Elisabeth (1666-1699); married in 1687 to Peter II (1648-1706), King of Portugal (1683-1706)
Maria Anna (1667-1740) married in 1690 to Charles II (1661-1700), known as "The Bewitched" (el Hechizado in Spanish) or "The Inbred", King of Spain, the Indies, of Naples, Sardinia and Sicilie, Duke of Burgundy and Milan and Sovereign of the Netherlands (1665-1700). She is his second wife
Philip Wilhelm August (1668-1693), married in 1690 to Princess Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg
Dorothea Sophie (1670-1748), married in 1690 to Odoardo Farnese (1666-1693), Hereditary Prince of Parma, and as a second marriage in 1695, to his half-brother Francisco Farnese (1678-1727), seventh Duke of Parma (1694-1727)
Hedwig Elisabeth Amalia (1673-1722), married in 1691 to crown prince James Louis Sobieski (1668-1737) of Poland
Johan (Düsseldorf 1675-1675)
Leopoldine Eleonora Jozefa (Neuburg 1679 - Dsseldorf 1693), engaged in 1693 to Maximilien-Emmanuel (1662-1762), prince-elector of Bavaria
Simon Maÿr (or Mair or Mayer), Heidelberg, around 1700/1710
Hofuhrmacher or Watchmaker to the Court was active in Neuberg (today south of the state of Hessen, district of Darmstadt, borough of Main-Kinzig), then in Heidelberg (today in the north-east of the state of Baden-Würtemberg, district of Karlsruhe), cities in the East of Germany, some hundreds of kilometres apart one from the other, far away from southern Germany's horological regions (Nürnberg, Augsburg, etc.). Jürgen Abeler (1933-2010), German horological historian, references eleven of his watches (see Meister der Uhmacherkunst, Jürgen Abeler, p. 423), notably one watch on which the hour circle on the dial is mobile and the index (hour hand) is fixed (see Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 13 November 2002, lot 274).