After his defeat in the July 1945 election, Sir Winston Churchill, as the opposition leader, spent his time travelling, attending conferences and painting.
In 1946 he delivered two significant historical speeches. In March, during a trip to the United States, he introduced the famous term “iron curtain” referring to the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. On the 19th September at the University of Zurich he made one of his most important post-war speeches. He proposed ‘a kind of United States of Europe’, based on a rapprochement between the French and the Germans, he ended the speech with the statement “Let Europe Arise”. This speech was delivered at the end of a three week stay in Switzerland for Churchill, his wife Clementine and his youngest daughter, Mary. The family stayed from the end of August to September at the Villa de Choisi, in the village of Bursinel, Canton of Vaud. The richly decorated villa was lent by the Swiss banker Alfred Kern. The quiet residence was the perfect holiday retreat for Churchill to paint, however, he mostly spent most of his time writing the speech he was to give a few days later in Zurich. An official visit to the city of Lausanne was organised for him and his family on the 11th September. The local people gathered to welcome him and thank him for his actions during the war that had changed the world forever. During the event, the government of Vaud presented Churchill with a wristwatch and his wife Clementine received a painting by Bocion. Winston Churchill kept the watch all his life, it then passed by decent through his family and then to the present owner.
The present lot is the very watch which was presented to him by the Canton of Vaud. The watch is engraved to the back:
“Le canton de Vaud A son hote illustre Mr. Winston Churchill aout-september 1946”
Translated it says “From the Canton of Vaud to its famous guest Mr. Winston Churchill August-September 1946”.
The watch was a carefully considered gift. The name Lemania refers to the Leman lake bordering the Canton of Vaud. Lemania, which is now part of Breguet, was highly regarded for the quality of the movements it produced and they supplied ébauches to some of the most renowned makers such as Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. The present lot is fitted with a cal. CH27-C12 movement. This calibre was developed in the early 1940’s in partnership with Omega. It is best known as the Omega calibre 321.
More than 60 years have pasted and yet the present lot remains a symbol of Winston Churchill’s vision of peace and unity. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a very personal object with such an important provenance; it is also a fascinating piece of horological history.
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