84. Auktion - Auktionen Dr. Crott

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84. Auktion - Auktionen Dr. Crott

A unique double-face pearl-set gold enamel pocket watch withmusical movement and 4 automatons of museum quality, forthe Chinese market: “The Theatre”Case: 18k gold, glazed covers, band decorated with rectangularpanels of cobalt blue translucent enamel over engine-turned groundwith gold oval-patterned borders, half pearl-set bezels. Dial: enamel,radial Roman numerals, winding aperture between “8” and “9”, at“4”aperture for winding the music and automaton. Automatonscene: two couples dancing on a revolving stage with mirrored wallsunder a multicolored gold dome, the theater’s walls with niches,each with a statue of a neo-classically dressed woman painted ingrisaille enamel, white enamel top frame. The couple is dancing tothe music provided by a lady sitting to the right, playing a harp,while a gentleman to the left beats time to the music, the top witha finely painted scene of the Jura mountains with a lakeside castle.Movm.: full plate movement, frosted, gilt, cylindrical pillars, goingbarrel, cylinder escapement, brass escape wheel, three-arm brassbalance, blued balance spring, pinned cylinder musical movementwith eight sections, each with two vibrating teeth, planetary gearingset under the platform commanding the dancers’ rotation.The TheatreThe “Theatre” is one of the rarest and most extravagant scenes thathave ever been created for automaton watches. To the best of ourknowledge there are only eight watches of that kind.With the exception of the watch from the Gélis collection, they areall based on similar ebauches - which strongly suggests that theywere all created by the same maker. Two of them are signed; fiveof them are unsigned and were supposed to be produced for theChinese market.The movement of this watch is consistent with the high qualitycreations of the makers in the Neuchâtel area. We know similarmovements from other automaton watches, particularly thosesigned by Du Bois et Fils; from that we may conclude that they wereeither made by him or that he was associated with the workshopthat produced them. Some Duchêne et Fils watches as well aswatches by other makers are also fitted with those movements.The watch we have has an automaton dial that is almost identical toa watch is signed by Duchêne et Fils. Duchêne et Fils as well as DuBois et Fils are famous for having created some of the most extravagantautomaton watches of all times: there are for example the“Tightrope Dancer” from the Sandberg Watch Collection, as well as“Moses” and of course, the “Theatre”.The theatre watch is fitted with a “carillon without bells playing twotunes and imitating the sound of the Mandolin, enclosed within asnuffbox of ordinary size” - this is one of the earliest pieces with thisinvention Antoine Favre presented to the Geneva Société des Arts in1796! In Favre’s construction vibrating blades, or teeth, had replacedthe much bulkier fragile carillon bells.Du Bois et FilsThe company Philippe Du Bois (1738-1808) established becamefamous for being one of the most important companies in theNeuchâtel area for over two centuries.Source: “Dictionnaire des Horlogers Genevois”, Osvaldo Patrizzi,Geneva 1998The Art of the Automaton in GenevaDuring the 1780s, Geneva opened a most intriguing chapter ofhorological history. The city developed, with great flair, the art ofautomatons: machines designed to imitate the movements of livebeings or creatures. They ranged from the simplest forms, wherea figure’s moving arms could point to the time, to complex, full-

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