Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Video: An 18thc Automaton Watch

Friday, January 8, 2016

Isabella reporting,

This is a very short video - less than a minute - but it's still an impressive tribute to the level of craftsmanship of 18thc. jewelers and watchmakers. Made of gold with enamel, the watch's artistic detail is as stunning as the clockwork mechanism that animates it. Alas, both the maker and the original owner's name are now forgotten, and today the watch is most famous for having been in the collection of  King Farouk of Egypt during the 20thc.

But it's easy to imagine some wealthy (for a watch like this would have been a very costly bauble) nobleman easing this from the fob pocket of his silk breeches and ostentatiously checking the time, making sure that all around him saw the tiny country miss swinging back and forth from the dial. Click on the photo right to see all the details. Beautiful!

Automaton watch, quarter repeater, gold and enamel, late 18thc. Shaw Watch Collection, Guernsey Museums & Galleries.

11 comments:

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

That's a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship. I'm guessing the clock runs all the time, and the push pin that sets off the swinging miss is just for show? Love how it makes noise to call attention to itself. It would be boring to just check the time; the show must go on!

Mike McCarty said...

Oh no! Not in his Waistcoat pocket but that fob pocket of his breeches! It is much safer there. Watches don't seem to shift to the waistcoat pocket until the second quarter of the 19th century.

Helena said...

Gorgeous, especially the fountain.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Oh, no! Mike, I should know better (and so should the gentleman who owned this watch.) Thank you for reminding me. :)

Donna Hatch, Regency Romance author said...

How extraordinary! What an amazing piece of craftmanship. And so glad to be reminded of the fob pocket in men's breeches. I would have assumed waistcoat pocket, too.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

I should add that Mike McCarty is the tailor's apprentice in the historic trades program, Colonial Williamsburg, and wears 18thc breeches everyday (see here: http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2013/04/more-about-buckskin-breeches.html). And here's another earlier post featuring breeches, with the infamous fob pocket clearly in view: http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2010/10/perfect-pair-of-gentlemans-buckskin.html

Though as a mere apprentice, I'm afraid that Mike can only dream of a watch like this one in his fob pocket...:)

Anonymous said...

What creates the running water?

Lillian Marek said...

I hope he also showed it regularly to entranced grandchildren.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Lillian, Yes, I hope he did, too (just as I hope he survived the French Revolution!) Anonymous, I'm guessing that the running water is an optical illusion - the same effect on a grander scale is used on the elephant automaton in this video:

http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2011/02/golden-elephants-spinning-rubies-more.html

Elli said...

It looks like the cupid on the upper left should also strike his bell - wonder if anyone would dare attempt a repair

Helen Kerr said...

It's fascinating.

But has anyone counted the bells? I keep getting eight.

 
Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket