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Details & Cataloguing

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

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Geneva

Henri Motel
A FINE SILVER OPEN-FACED POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH HELICAL BALANCE SPRING AND APERTURE FOR UP-AND-DOWN INDICATION CIRCA 1830, NO. 148
Movement: gilt-brass full plate, spring detent escapement, unusual cruciform balance, the brass rim with timing weights, blued steel helical spring, diamond endstone, fusee and chain, cylindrical pillars
Dial: silvered, Roman numerals, aperture below 12 o'clock for up-and-down indication, outer minute track, blued steel moon hands, signed and numbered Hri. Motel hger de la Marine Rle, No.148 
Case: plain silver, dome hinged silver cuvette signed and numbered Hri. Motel hger de la Marine Rle, No.148, case maker's mark LJ for Louis Joly and numbered 1116 (possibly 9111)
diameter 58mm
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Provenance

Aachener Auktionshaus Dr. Crott & Schmelzer, 25 April 1981, lot 199

Catalogue Note

Motel's 'Montre Marine Portative' no.148 is recorded in the servicing records of the French Depot de la Marine as having been cleaned on 10 May 1833 and returned to the Depot (see: J-C. Sabrier, La Longitude en Mer à l'heure de Louis Berthoud et Henri Motel, Antiquorum Geneva 1993, p.644). 

Henri Motel (1786-1859) was born in France at Margny-lès-Compiègne and at the age of 20 undertook an apprenticeship with Louis Berthoud. Having completed his studies in 1813, Motel left his master but upon the death of Berthoud, just a few weeks later, Berthoud's widow persuaded Motel to return and continue the business and finish training their sons Jean Louis Simon Henry Berthoud and Charles Auguste. Motel remained with the Berthouds for a further 4 years before handing over the business to the Berthoud brothers in 1817. Following Abraham-Louis Breguet's death in 1823, Motel succeeded to the title of Horloger de la Marine and became a major supplier of marine chronometers to the French navy. Jonathan Betts has noted in his book "Marine Chronometers at Greenwich", that the majority of Motel's chronometers were sold to the navy and "few found their way into the hands of the merchant marine or private customers until years later" (see op. cit. p.288). Motel was awarded a gold medal for his chronometers and regulators at the 1839 French Industrial Exhibition and was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur. Motel died at the age of 73 and was succeeded by one of his pupils, Onesime Dumas. Marine chronometers represented the greater part of Motel's production with pocket chronometers, such as the present lot, being produced in much smaller numbers. For further information on Motel, see: J. Betts, Marine Chronometers at Greenwich, OUP, pp.287-288.

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

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Geneva