Fashionable Watches

Swiss Automaton Pocket Watch, ca. 1815 | Vintage Cleveland | Preview

Swiss Automaton Pocket Watch, ca. 1815 | Vintage Cleveland | Preview

GUEST: Well, it belonged to
my great-grandfather and it
came down through the family. APPRAISER: Now, this is a watch
made for the Chinese market. And there was an entire industry
in Switzerland, centered in the
town of Fleurier, which produced in the early part of the 19th
century watches that were sold
exclusively to a Chinese market. Typically, they have
this wonderful floral
enamel on the back. But yours is more
special than that. Now, we can turn this
over and look at the
other side of the watch. When we first saw the floral
enamel, we saw the pearls
around the outside of it. This once had pearls
around it, too. And I understand this has
had sort of a sad history. GUEST: That’s correct. It was confiscated by
the Communists during
the Cultural Revolution,
and when it was returned, the pearls were gone. APPRAISER: How did you
get it back after the
Cultural Revolution? GUEST: It was returned
to my family, and it came
down through my mother. APPRAISER: The front of the
watch really is pure Swiss,
and it depicts a scene out of Greek mythology known
as “Cupid’s forge.” And what makes it even
more interesting is that
it’s an automated scene. Watches like this are very
highly prized by collectors,
and even though many watches are not terribly valuable,
these have always been
very sought-after. We think that if you had to
insure it, you should think
in terms of $35,000, perhaps to $40,000. It’s quite a nice watch, and
you should be very happy that
it survived, and I’m delighted to hear the story of the watch. GUEST: Thank you.

Reader Comments

  1. The pearl can be replaced. I have been collecting & restoring for years the replacement pearls would have to come from the similar era through scrap pieces of similar age. Gorgeous

  2. The Chinese cultural revolution was really sad! So much traditional culture and artifacts destroyed ancient temples ransacked. It was a real loss not to just the Chinese under the grip of Communism but to the entire human race from a historical standpoint!

  3. So is this the same watch that's being sold in Sotheby's auction on 2 July 2019? –

    It looks identical, except that it's now got the pearls back in place.

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