Sunday, June 9, 2013

The object of the day: Piguet and Meylan Pocket Watch

We don’t often talk about pocket watches on Longitude because wristwatches are “of our time”. However, we do plan to bring to your attention pieces that are noteworthy, especially because they offer good value in the present market. For example, a watch with  with elaborate decorative elements or those with complications such as a minute repeater, tourbillon and perpetual calendar will cost a fraction of the same combination in a watch.

On November 12, 2012 at Christie’s Important Watches auction is a wondrous collection of  pocket watches made in Switzerland for the Chinese market. A couple spent several decades putting together this collection of enamel pocket watches from the 19th century made for the Chinese market. Specially curated for their unique beauty, they not only display intricate scenes and designs but also important movements.

While all of these pocket watches are exceptional, this quarter repeater signed by Piguet and Meylan stands out. Made for a Chinese dignitary, it features an interpretation in champlevé enamel of an allegorical scene after Pierre-Paul Prud’hon’s “Love Seduces Innocence, Pleasure Leads Them On, Repentance Follows” interpreted by Jean-Abraham Lissignol. How important is this watch? Well, you decide. Patek Philippe placed on permanent display in their museum a nearly identical pair of quarter repeaters signed by Piguet and Meylan with the the same scene also attributed to Lissignol.

Partners from 1811 through 1828, Isaac-Daniel Piguet and Philippe-Samuel Meylan made some of the most significant (and expensive) watches of the 19th century. Piguet was known for pieces with carillons and en -passant hour, and quarter striking clock watches, while Meylan specialized in thin watches and and those with musical automata. Piguet and Meylan spared no expense when casing their watches. For this watch, they sought out brothers Louis-David-Benjamin of the renowned firm Fréres Ultramare, who made spectacular and luxurious gold cases, this one with pearls circling the bezel and band.

This Piguet & Meylan is an unparalleled example of a pocket watch in the 19th century that highlights the best of artistic expression and high watchmaking. this pocket watch went up for sale, there was fierce bidding, culminating in a price over triple the estimate! Still, this doesn’t mean collectors can’t get beautiful pieces at sane prices. This pocket watch is highly important because of the maker, the complication, and the artist responsible for the enamel work. Who knows what a pocket watch that you buy today could be worth down the road. Something to think about…
Estimate: $84,000-130,000
Sale Price: $459,000

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