Scent bottles set with a watch and compass are extremely rare. The only other pair of such flasks known to exist to date is believed to be in the Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing.
James Cox, who had been established as a jeweller and maker of automata or 'toys of the heart' since 1749, was renowned for his complicated musical and automaton clocks and highly decorated scent bottles and table necessaires with watches.
Such exotic objets de vertu were retailed by fashionable London 'toy-shops' or museums, such as the 'Spring Garden Museum' which Cox launched in the 1760s. With the help of his son John Henry Cox, he opened a branch of his manufactory in the British Compound at Canton in the early 1780s, which flourished for several years.
The date of James Cox's death is thought to be in late 1791/early 1792.