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Details & Cataloguing

Masterworks of Time: Adolf Lange, The Golden Era of Glashütte

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Geneva

F. Sermand
AN EXTREMELY RARE SILVER WATCH IN THE FORM OF A DOLPHIN CIRCA 1640
Movement: gilded oval full plate, verge escapement, decoratively pierced and floral engraved screwed-on balance cock, lacking pinion and wheel connected to fusee, wheel and click set-up lacking click spring, fusee lacking gut line, vase shaped pillars, signed J. Sermand 
Dial: silver, engraved with a townscape to the centre, applied gilded chapter ring engraved with Roman numerals and heart-shaped half hour divisions, outer silver border engraved with flowers and foliage, a cherub above 12 o'clock, single turned blued steel hand lacking tail
Case: silver in the form of a stylised dolphin, the tail forming a suspension loop, almandine-set eyes, the underside of the dolphin engraved with scales and fins and hinged to reveal the dial   
length 36mm, height 36mm
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Catalogue Note

Watches in the form of animals appear to have been fashionable in the middle of the 17th century. From surviving examples, it would seem that these 'form' watches were often produced in Geneva although, ironically, the strict Sumptuary Ordinances and Laws concerning Clothing, Furnishings and Other Excesses of Similar Kind would have forbidden the wearing of such ornate watches within the Calvinist city of Geneva itself.

In his book, Watches in the Ashmolean Museum (2007, pp.24-25), David Thompson notes a small number of silver animal-form watches dating to the mid-17th century including: a lion with movement by the Geneva maker Jean Baptiste Duboule, a rabbit with movement by Pierre Duhamel, a dog with movement by Jacques Jolly and a swan with movement by Henry Ester. Two very similar dolphin-form watches, one by Jean-Baptiste Duboule and one by Jean-Henry Ester may be found at the Patek Philippe Museum (inv. S-248 & S-326, see: P. Friess, Patek Philippe Museum, Vol. III, 2015, p.66).

An F. Sermand is listed as active in c.1640 by Brian Loomes in Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, 21st Century Edition, 2006, p.700.

Masterworks of Time: Adolf Lange, The Golden Era of Glashütte

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Geneva