96
96
E. Buffat
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND INTERESTING GOLD TWO MINUTE TOURBILLON WATCH WITH DUPLEX ESCAPEMENT, THE MAIN WHEEL BRIDGE IN THE FORM OF AN 'N', THE NUMERALS SPELLING NAPOLEON III CIRCA 1855
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96
E. Buffat
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND INTERESTING GOLD TWO MINUTE TOURBILLON WATCH WITH DUPLEX ESCAPEMENT, THE MAIN WHEEL BRIDGE IN THE FORM OF AN 'N', THE NUMERALS SPELLING NAPOLEON III CIRCA 1855
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Details & Cataloguing

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

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Geneva

E. Buffat
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND INTERESTING GOLD TWO MINUTE TOURBILLON WATCH WITH DUPLEX ESCAPEMENT, THE MAIN WHEEL BRIDGE IN THE FORM OF AN 'N', THE NUMERALS SPELLING NAPOLEON III CIRCA 1855
Movement: four-armed two minute tourbillon carriage with duplex escapement, requiring 4 vibrations of the balance per impulse to advance the carriage by one-second intervals, compensation balance, spiral spring with terminal curve, the disc of the carriage engraved overall with a floral design, the main plate of the watch engraved E. Buffat, Fec. & Inven. and with bees surrounding the crest, crown and sceptre of Napoleon III, " Alma and Inkermann" and "Exposition Universelle" are inscribed on the central bridge which is in the form of the letter N, to honor the monarch's victories
Dial: white enamel, the hour markings spelling Napoleon III in blue and red enamel paint, the ten minute indications on the seconds dial similarly rendered and spelling La Glo[ir]e, outer red minute track
Case: 18ct gold, the engine turned case back centred with engraved Imperial Coat of Arms, milled band, glazed cuvette with aperture for winding and hand-set, case maker's mark CAD incuse and numbered 56402 further scratch numbered 5379
Accompaniments: fitted leather box, the lid with impressed gilt 'N' beneath a crown, the back of the box with a Patek Philippe label numbered 5379 and a retailer's name of Pleister of 31 Regent Street, London
diameter 51.5mm
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Provenance

Captain Peter Belin
Sotheby's London, The Belin Collection, 29 November 1979, lot 176
Christie's London, 9 June 1999, lot 343

Literature

R. Meis, Das Tourbillon, 1986, pp. 119 & 344, figs. 67 & 68
Horological Journal, Vol. 122, No. 9, March 1980, pp. 28 and 31

Catalogue Note

The Imperial arms engraved to the mainplate of the movement are those of the Second French Empire under Napoleon III. The Imperial crown is shown above the imperial sceptre which is crossed with a staff representing the hand of justice. At the base of the arms, the chain of the Légion d'honneur is shown. Engraved and gilded bees fill the ground. The bee, a symbol of immortality and resurrection was chosen by Napoleon I to link the dynasty to the very origins of France and was subsequently adopted by Napoleon III. The watch's main bridge forms a Napoleonic 'N' and is engraved with the names of the battles of Alma and Inkerman that took place in 1854 during the Crimean war and in which the French, the British and their allies were victorious. An eagle is engraved to the base of the mainplate beneath the centre of the 'N' bridge.

Louis Napoleon III (1808-1873), nephew of Napoleon I, was President of the Second Republic of France. In 1852 he became Emperor of the French and, following two prosperous decades in office, his reign was brought to an end in 1870 by the defeat of his army during the Franco-Prussian war.

An incredibly rare tourbillon watch with duplex escapement, this famous watch formed part of the Belin Collection which was sold at Sotheby's in London exactly 40 years ago. By repute, the watch was traditionally believed to have been presented to Napoleon III at the Paris Exposition of 1867. However, a presentation at or shortly after the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle now seems more likely, given the style of the watch and the fact that the battles of Alma and Inkermann took place in 1854.   

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

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Geneva