Exceptionally Rare Virgule Chatelaine Watch


Signed   Rojard a Geneve
Circa   1790
Diameter   57 mm         

1 in stock


An exceptionally rare late 18th Century Swiss centre seconds virgule with wolf’s teeth train wheels in a gold and enamel case and matching chatelaine.  Unusual calibre keywind gilt movement, suspended going barrel with blue and polished steel stopwork.  Plain gilt cocks for the balance and escape wheel with polished steel coquerets.  Plain three arm gilt balance mounted below the gold virgule escape wheel, blue steel spiral hairspring.  The polished steel regulator situated below the balance fitted with a blue steel screw to adjust but no index provided.  The barrel, all train wheels and pinions with wolf’s teeth profile.  Fine signed white enamel dial with centre seconds, Arabic numerals, decorative pierced gold hands.  Fine gold and enamel case, the sprung back opened by depressing a button in the gold pendant.  Signed and numbered gilt cuvette, small steel lever at the edge to stop the balance.  The bezels in translucent blue and white enamel with gilt decoration.  The back bordered  with a repeat of the pattern, a large polychrome coat of arms on translucent dark blue enamel over an engine turned ground.  Long matching macaroni gold and enamel chatelaine, the cartouches joined by four gold chains.  The two inner chains of translucent dark blue enamel with gilt decoration on both faces.  Gold rectangular cartouche of translucent dark blue enamel on both faces with a border matching that on the bezels of the watch.  Large gold octagonal cartouche similarly decorated, on one side the coat of arms is repeated and the other the family crest.  Three further short chains, the centre chain with a matching gold and enamel key a geometric pattern on one side and family crest on the other.

An exceptionally rare watch which appears never to have been worn.  The unusual movement resembles some of those by Jean-Antoine Lepine who was known to use wolf's teeth wheels and pinions in a few of his watches.  (See a watch of 1788 by Lepine in the British Museum, Museum number 1958,1201.289) www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1958-1201-289 In addition to employing the very, very rare form of gearing the movement also has the rare virgule escapement constructed with the balance close to the plate and below the escape wheel.   The fine case and long chatelaine bear the coat of arms of George Samuel Browne, 8th Viscount Montagu, 1769û1793.  The condition of the watch may be due to his early demise.  In October 1793 he and a friend ignored warnings not to ride a boat over rapids of the Rhine at Laufenburg.  Neither survived.  The title passed to the last Viscount Montagu Mark Browne who died only four years later in 1797.