Auction - Sotheby's Geneva to offer enamel timepieces made for Chinese mkt
Sotheby's autumn sale of Important Watches will be held Nov 15 in Geneva, and includes amongst others very rare enamel timepieces, made for the Chinese and Turkish markets during the 18th and 19th centuries. Trade relationships between Swiss watchmakers and China began in the Court of Constantinople in the late 16th century. At that time, Swiss exports were delegated to the British who enjoyed unparalleled access to the Chinese market through their trading posts. At first an object of curiosity, Swiss and European luxury timepieces became highly desired among the Chinese dignitaries under the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1796). Direct trade relationships developed between China and Swiss watchmakers, which flourished until the Opium War (1840-1842). The sale includes a rare gold, enamel, jewel and pearl-set automaton caterpillar, probably made by Henri Maillardet, circa 1800. Reproducing the undulating crawl of the carterpillar, the creation is a great example of the art of automatons. There is also a rare gold, enamel and pearlset musical knife, circa 1800. For me, the most beautiful piece is a gold, enamel, diamond and pearl-set musical lorgnette watch (PHOTO), made circa 1800 probably by Piguet and Meylan. The masters in the art of marrying automata and ornamental watches, Piguet and Meylan employed some of the best enamel painters to decorate their watches, and some of their creations are now part of the world's foremost collections, including the Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Musée d'Horlogerie, Locle.