Chronology : 1680-1699 1830-1839 2020 to now 2021
1600-1610 Augsburg Elephant Clock
2021 SOLD for $ 2.6M by Christie's
Four centuries later the Augsburg craftsmen were skilled to develop new machines enabling some playful entertainment on the banquet table beside the high variety of silver salts.
The model of the mechanical Augsburg elephant is directly inspired in its form and motion from al-Jazari's automaton. No less than ten Augsburg elephant clocks are known to survive. The beast is standing on a pedestal in which a mechanism enables a tight circular travel on the table. The clock is posed on its back like a minaret saddle, exactly like on al-Jazari's master model.
An elephant clock made in Augsburg ca 1600-1610 has just been restituted to a branch of the Rothschild after a Nazi spoliation in 1938. It was sold for $ 2.6M from a lower estimate of $ 700K by Christie's on October 13, 2021, lot 7. It is stated in the catalogue as "partially non-functioning but largely intact".
This piece 36 cm high including the 9 cm wood pedestal is made of silvered bronze, enameled silver and gilt bronze. The clock has an enameled dial on two opposite sides of the minaret plus glass windows revealing the gears from the other two sides.
In addition to the travel of the pedestal, the automata consist of a circular movement of the upper platform of the minaret holding four warriors, plus a back and forward movement of the eyes of the elephant. Two non-automated figures of armed putti carved in the round are driving the elephant, one riding it and the other beside it.
1693 A Little Clock for Queen Mary
2019 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Aware of the quality of his production, Tompion numbered his instruments, an exceptional practice in his time for a manufactured product. He mixes in a single serialization list the table clocks and the long case clocks. His clocks have a long autonomy. His grande sonnerie pieces offer a repetition of quarters over a long duration.
From 1692 or 1693 Tompion improves the elegance of his design with his Phase Two which includes the cushion dome, the thistle bud handle, the bellflower keyhole and the operation of the mechanism from the front face.
The master seems more interested in standardization than in miniaturization. Nevertheless Number 215 appears as the first of a small series of Phase Two table clocks with a total height of 28 cm including the raised handle. It was sold for £ 170K including premium by Bonhams on December 13, 2011.
Number 222, made especially for Queen Mary II in 1693 and known as the Q Clock, is the smallest clock ever made by Tompion with an ebony case. It is 20 cm high overall with the handle raised. It offers the quarter repetition and an autonomy of eight days.
Re-assembled in 1949 by a collector with its original movement, the Q Clock was sold for £ 440K including premium by Christie's on June 30, 1993. It will be sold by Bonhams in London on June 19, lot 103. The May 20 press release is announcing for this silver mounted royal clock an estimate in excess of £ 2M. A modern replica is joined to the lot.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
We are delighted to announce that one of the most valuable clocks ever to appear at auction, The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, will star in The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks in London on 19 June.https://t.co/6ufWtyi4Ax pic.twitter.com/ROoThd69zu— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) May 20, 2019
1766 A Flat Desk with its Clock of Cartonnier
2015 SOLD for € 2.22M including premium (unpaid)
All accessories are designed for writing: drawers and pull in the desk, black leathered top and the very tall serre papier now named cartonnier or filing cabinet which is surmounted by a clock.
The desks stamped by Montigny are rare. One of them is estimated € 2M for sale by Christie's in Paris on November 4, lot 510. It retained its matching cartonnier with its original clock as they were described in the inventory of the estate of a former intendant of Louis XVI in 1795. Two period écritoires are joined to complete the equipment.
The desk is adorned with a leafy garland in antiquisant style 'à la grecque' which was fashionable in the early 1760s. It certainly dates from the very beginning of the accession to the maîtrise by Montigny in 1766. The sets of furniture of this period in which desk, cabinet and clock were never separated are of extreme rarity.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's.
This bureau passed at Christie's on October 13, 2021, lot 16, from a lower estimate of $ 600K. The auction house indicated in the catalogue that it was "in while or in part" owned by them, which suggests that it was unpaid in 2015 in the sale of the Ganay collection.
ca 1774 Régulateur de Parquet by Berthoud
1999 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The marquis de Choiseul, raised to duc de Praslin in 1762, swapped in 1766 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Ministry of Marine, just as strategic. To cancel the French backwardness, he commissions the two most skilful watchmakers established in Paris, Pierre Le Roy and the Swiss born Ferdinand Berthoud. It is Praslin who conceives the first official French circumnavigation, whose captain is Bougainville.
In 1764 and 1765, Praslin acquires Fouquet's castle in Vaux and a residence in Paris, built on the banks of the Seine for Fouquet's grandson, which becomes the hôtel de Choiseul-Praslin. The luxury of its decoration, including some furniture by Boulle, is worthy of the minister disgraced by Louis XIV.
The régulateur de parquet (longcase clock) from the hôtel's grand salon is a work by Berthoud, with a case stamped by Lieutaud and gilded bronzes by Caffiéri's son. This is of course the best in Paris for that sort of piece. It includes the calendar, complications related to Sun and Moon, a needle barometer, as well as the équation de Berthoud revealed to the Académie des Sciences in 1752 to differentiate between apparent and mean solar times.
This sumptuous 2.66 m high piece of time and furnishing was sold for £ 1.93M including premium by Christie's on July 8, 1999, lot 207. For the date, the only reference is a spring marked 1774.
1783 Trunk and Ears of the Time Elephant
2012 SOLD 1.6 M£ including premium
The musical automaton for sale on July 4 in London by Sotheby's is highly sophisticated. Around 1780, the Swiss have not yet started the trend of songbirds. The main element of the piece is a big elephant that moves its trunk and ears and turns its eyeballs. Standing on the clock, it carries on its back a canopy covered pagoda surmounted by a Catherine wheel. The whole is 102 cm high.
This incredible object, estimated £ 1M, brought out from oblivion the maker who signed it, named Peter Torckler, listed in the commercial registers of London from 1780 to 1783. He thus appears as a skillful contemporary but probably also an unsuccessful competitor of James Cox.
There is no evidence that this piece went to reach China. It was probably in London in the 1890s when it was bought by the Shah of Persia.
POST SALE COMMENT
This piece of large size and extreme rarity was sold £ 1.6 million including premium.
I invite you to discover its main movements in the videos shared by Sotheby's.
1790 The Swan Pagoda Clock
2014 SOLD for £ 2.27M by Sotheby's
The appealing criteria for these export clocks was the exuberance. A typical model was the pagoda clock, whose case was made of several tiers with a square surface gradually decreasing upwards, in a reference to the 80 m high nine-tiered Nanjing pagoda.
A pair of such clocks 116 cm high was made ca 1790 for the Chinese market. The five tiers are surmounted with a faceted automaton star linked to a rotating drum. Enamels are abundant and the second level displays a simulated fountain. The back plate is signed by Thompson in London. The clock rings the quarters.
The pair had been withdrawn for trade from an imperial palace in the early years of the Republic. It has been separated. One of them was sold for £ 570K by Christie's on June 12, 2003, lot 45. The other is the Swan clock featuring two of these birds swimming in the fountain. It was sold by Sotheby's on July 9, 2014 for £ 2.27M from a lower estimate of £ 1M, lot 48.
1793 English Presentation Clock to the Qianlong Emperor
2008 SOLD for HK$ 36M including premium by Christie's
late 18th century - Chinese Jardinière Clock
2008 SOLD for HK$ 39.5M including premium by Christie's
1790s Technology Transfer from London to Canton
2010 SOLD 3.8 M$ including premium
But Qianlong was also a big fan of clocks, a craft where the British were clever. It is told that this emperor owned more than 4,000 clocks, decorated with musical automata. He set up specialized workshops in Beijing and Guangzhou, which started by importing the clockwork from England.
A retrospective look at the extraordinary sale made by Christie's in Hong Kong on May 27, 2008 provides valuable information. The luxury of these imperial table clocks is fabulous.
The second highest result, 36 M HK$ including premium, an English piece, was probably one of those introduced to Qianlong by Lord Macartney when he endeavoured to strengthen trade in 1793. Then came at HK $ 34 million a clock mounted in China on an English movement dated about 1771. It is a great demonstration of technology transfer at the end of the eighteenth century.
Echoing the tradition of home auctions, Sotheby's will sell on 8 and 9 June the furnishings of the 45 rooms of the country manor of Mrs. Kluge, in Virginia.
The beautiful table clock with gilt brass and enamel, estimated $ 600K, has been made in the workshops of Guangzhou. The automaton includes a waterfall, and characters who pass a landscape. The mechanism is later.
See this lot, and an overview of the sale, in the article shared by Roving Insight.
POST SALE COMMENT
As good as the superb lots sold in 2008! The clock of Mrs. Kluge is a masterpiece. It was sold $ 3.8 million including premium.
1835 The Clock of the Duc d'Orléans
2012 SOLD 6.8 M$ including premium
In 1795, Abraham-Louis Breguet imagines the combination of a clock and a watch. This outstanding inventor manages later to achieve this stupendous set known as Breguet Sympathique.
After being used during the day, the watch is repositioned in a cradle at the top of the clock. At midnight, the clock triggers a mechanism that enters the watch, measures and rectifies the error. After a few days, the value of the error is integrated into the beat of the watch and its adjustment becomes automatic.
When Breguet died in 1823, five copies have been made. Only kings can afford to own such an expensive mechanism.
Being an extremely remote cousin of Charles X, Louis Philippe I becomes King of France after a revolution. His eldest son, the duc d'Orléans, is a brilliant prince who would like to live again in the luxury of the Ancien Régime. He commissions his sympathique clock to the Breguet workshop. It is completed in 1835.
Luxury adds to technical feat. 58 cm high, the piece is made in the imitation of Boulle style which is so fashionable in that time, in a cabinet by Bellangé and with Denière bronzes on a design by Questel.
The clock and the watch of this set have not been separated. Having been restored to operation by George Daniels, it provides an exceptional demonstration of one of the most advanced ideas of automatism.
POST SALE COMMENT
Again a great and deserved price for this fabulous clock: $ 6.8 million including premium.
1902 The Rothschild Egg by Fabergé
2007 SOLD for £ 9M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Fabergé is an entrepreneur who knows how to satisfy the richest customers around the world, eager to find the most sumptuous gifts for their wives. Two non-imperial variants from the cockerel egg are known, one made in 1902 for the French branch of the Rothschild family, the other in 1904 for a Russian nobleman.
The Rothschild egg was an engagement gift by Béatrice de Rothschild to Germaine Halphen who will become her sister-in-law in 1905. Stayed with that family, it surfaced in a sale by Christie's on November 28, 2007. It was sold for £ 9M, lot 55.
This piece 27 cm high in closed position is made of solid silver enamelled in transparent pink on a guilloche background and weighs 3,645 g. To mark the hours, the lid opens to let rising a multicolored chantecler in enamelled gold set with small diamonds. For 15 seconds, the bird flaps its wings, sings while moving its head, opens and closes its beak and ends the movement by banging a bell before descending back to its original place.
This egg is dated, signed by Fabergé and stamped by the workmaster Perchin. A photo taken during its make features Perchin with his assistant Wigström who will succeed him in 1903.
2018 Atomic Mechanical Control by Urwerk
2019 SOLD for $ 2.9M by Phillips
One of Breguet's most avant-garde designs was the Breguet Sympathique, a pocket watch that did not need to be touched for winding, time setting and regulation. When its power reserve approached depletion, it was inserted into a clock to which it was mechanically coupled. The word Sympathique is an evocation of the coupling, by its etymology meaning 'functioning by affinity'.
Obtaining the three settings simultaneously was a mechanical feat that was achieved by his workshop for the duc d'Orléans in 1835, twelve years after Breguet's death. Restarted to working condition by Daniels in the 1970s, the complete system was sold for $ 6.8M including premium by Sotheby's on December 4, 2012.
The Urwerk AMC (Atomic Mechanical Control) system unveiled in 2018 at Baselworld Miami is an adaptation of the Sympathique to the modern technologies. Without a direct application identified, this technical feat paves the way for new developments.
The time reference is provided by a 45 x 30 x 18 cm atomic clock weighing 35 Kg. It uses the quantum energy transitions of the rubidium atom, known by physicists to provide the best stability with a 1 second error for 317 years when it is associated with a garnet of yttrium and iron. It provides the stability of a wristwatch by coupling, without manual winding, without quartz, without battery.
Urwerk announced the production of the system in three units. A price of $ 2.7M was announced in period on the web by a specialized website. The titanium mechanical watch with the serial number 001 associated with its atomic clock was sold for $ 2.9M from a lower estimate of $ 1M by Phillips on December 10, 2019, lot 8.
2021 Patek Philippe Desk Clock
2021 SOLD for CHF 9.5M by Christie's
To go forward in 2021, the brand cleverly offered a clock that will not invite for a comparison with the 2019 entry.
This item is a modern version of an Art Déco desk clock made by them in 1923 for the demanding customer James Ward Packard which is kept in the Patek Philippe Museum. Henry Graves Jr managed to have a similar time piece. The Packard complicated clock was equipped with a perpetual calendar and moon phases with an eight-day power reserve. It is made of silver with solid-gold feet and inlays.
The OnlyWatch clock is the unique example of the 27001M-01 model. The angular shape with a hinged lid of this 165 x 125 x 76 mm instrument has no equivalent in the modern catalogues of the brand.
It features a perpetual calendar, moon phases, day-night indicator, week-number display and has a power reserve of 31 days and a precision rate of 1 second per day. The case and the cabinet are in sterling silver with vermeil decorative elements and American walnut inlays. In an additional exquisite refinement the dial is in a similar yellow gilt opaline hue as the 6300 of 2019.
The hammer was entrusted to Christie's on November 6, 2021. The Patek Philippe desk clock was sold for CHF 9.5M, lot 41. Please watch the video shared by Watch I love.