BOVET FLEURIER | A PAIR OF GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET WATCHES MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, CIRCA 1825, NO. 176
Property from an Important Italian Collection
Property from an Important Italian Collection
A PAIR OF GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET WATCHES MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
CIRCA 1825, NO. 176
Movements: polished and blued steel Chinese calibres, duplex escapements, ruby endstones, each signed Bovet, Fleurier
Dials: white enamel, Roman numerals, blued steel hands, centre seconds
Cases: gold, polychrome enamel painted panels depicting two doves surrounded by flowers and foliage, pearl-set bezels, stem and bow, gold engraved cuvettes, cases stamped G within a fancy-form cartouche and B within a lozenge-shaped cartouche surmounted by a crown, the inside of the case backs and bezels numbered 176
Keys: gold, polychrome enamel with floral bouquets
diameters 59mm & 58.5mm
Accompanied by an associated fitted presentation case.
Movements: not running at the time of cataloguing
Dials: the one dial with a small chip visible by the hands. The other dial in good condition
Cases: the enamel panels with light scratches. Small chips to the enamel of the band by the hinge. Restoration to enamel on the stem.
Please note that the movement has not been tested for the accuracy of time and may need a service at the buyer's expense. Sotheby's does not guarantee the future working of the movement and we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts.
You are advised that watch straps or bands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator or crocodile) are not sold with the watch and we reserve the right to remove these straps or bands prior to shipping. Furthermore, the watch may not come with its original manufacturers strap or band.
Prospective bidders should review the Conditions of Business, Authenticity Guarantee, the Guide for Prospective Buyers, and any Important Notice in the sale catalogue.
"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."
**Please be advised that bands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping."
Between 1807 and 1815, watchmaking in Fleurier suffered a significant slowdown in trade, caused in large part by the Continental Blockade and, as a consequence, many watchmakers were forced to change career. It was during this period, in 1814, that three Bovet brothers, all skilled watchmakers - Frédéric (b.1786), Alphonse (1788-1850) and Edouard (1797-1849) - left Fleurier to work in London. In 1818, Edouard was hired as a watchmaker by the Maison Magniac, a firm involved in the watch trade in Canton, China. Arriving in Canton in August 1818, Edouard quickly recognised the trade potential with China and contacted his brothers to discuss developing their interests in the region. The brothers began forming their company in January 1820, with Edouard working in Canton, Frédéric and Alphonse remaining in London and another brother, Gustave (1790-1835), engaged in Fleurier. On 1 May 1822, the Bovet company was officially registered in London, however, operations were soon to be headquartered back in their hometown of Fleurier where the brothers’ sister, Caroline (b.1807), would also later join the firm.
Maison Bovet’s successful introduction of a new style of watch, destined for China, quickly allowed the firm to secure a dominant position within this export market. As a consequence, Bovet transformed the fortunes of Fleurier, giving a new energy to the watchmaking trade and ushering in an era of prosperity for the town. From the outset, in addition to selling good quality watches, Edouard Bovet was determined to offer a range of exceptional and highly luxurious watches, decorated using the finest techniques and materials, that would be aimed at the wealthiest Chinese clientele. These watches would incorporate a distinctive, so-called Chinese calibre, with duplex escapement. A glazed cuvette would be mounted above, through which the movement could be admired by its owner. Among the decorative scenes skilfully painted in enamel to the backs of cases, flower arrangements were a particularly popular theme and such compositions would occasionally incorporate a pair of doves, such as those found on the present lot. The two present watches also reflect the demand, within the Chinese market, for complimentary pairs of mirror image scenes – each watch being a perfect reflection of the other. It is increasingly rare to find pairs of watches from this era that remain united, since many have been separated from one another as they have passed through the generations.
In 1824, Edouard was joined in China by his brother Charles-Henri (b.1802) who, from 1830-1836 was the Maison Bovet’s main representative in China; he returned to Switzerland in 1839. Meanwhile, Edouard had returned to Fleurier and would go on to establish a further factory in Besancon with Charles Lorimier, the factory there producing Chinese market watches which were exported together with Bovets other products. The sons of the second eldest founding brother, Alphonse, would continue the Bovet firm – they were Frédéric known as Fritz (1824-1914), Alphonse 1828-1918), Gustave who was born in Shanghai (1835-1906) and Charles (b.1838). They were joined by Louis (1818-1882), the son of Gustave the elder. Louis would travel to Canton in 1836 to work with his uncle Charles and was joined in 1838 by his childhood friend Auguste Jeanneret when Charles returned to Europe. In 1880 the firm changed its name to Bovet Frères. For a detailed history of the firm, see: A. Chapuis, La Montre Chinoise, 1919.
For a pair of similarly themed enamel watches by Bovet, numbered 861, see: Parke-Bernet, The Collection of Helen M. de Kay, New York, 9 December 1966, lot 61.