'THE GARDEN THEATRE' SWISS | A RARE GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET QUARTER REPEATING AUTOMATON WATCH WITH CONCEALED EROTIC SCENE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET CIRCA 1800
Estimate: 10,000 - 15,000 GBP
'THE GARDEN THEATRE'
A RARE GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET QUARTER REPEATING AUTOMATON WATCH WITH CONCEALED EROTIC SCENE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
gilded half plate movement, cylinder escapement, plunge repeat on two bells incorporated into the backplate, automaton movement, white enamel dial, Roman numerals, outer Arabic minute track, blued steel hands, gold case, both bezels set with pearls, later back panel with engine-turned centre surrounded by a row of enamel roses, the band decorated with enameled trophies with alternating green and red translucent enamel backgrounds, finely painted enamel landscape concealed beneath the back cover depicting a love garden, automaton figures in the foreground, a seated lady, her arm raising and lowering a dove beside a fountain with turning glass rod imitating flowing water, a dog looks towards the theatre stage whilst moving its head and wagging its tail, sliding panel to the theatre's stage with enamel cupid opening to reveal an erotic automaton scene operated via a lever to the case band
Movement: runs for a short time. Strikes the hours but does not strike all the quarters correctly
Dial: some small chips to the edge of the dial
Case: scratches throughout the case. Restoration to the enamel scene. Automaton figures of fountain, seated lady and dog operating when the mechanism is wound. Erotic figures not operating.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. All dimensions in catalogue descriptions are approximate. Condition reports may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome. Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. Please note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and leather bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species.NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Christie's South Kensington, 29 March 2000, lot 36
The scene to this watch is a variation of the 'Theatre' automata watches of which only a small number are known, including examples by Du Bois Fils and Henry Capt. A 'Theatre' automaton watch by Henry Capt, formerly in the collection of Theodor Beyer, was sold at Antiquorum Zurich, 16 November 2003, lot 47. The latter watch depicted a theatre stage filling the back panel of the watch, to the left side of theatre's stage a small panel opened to reveal an erotic automaton. The scene to the present watch is placed within a finely painted classical garden, the love birds to the base and the automaton dog before the curtained stage hint at the hidden scene beneath.