Watches for the Chinese Market
The first European timepieces appeared in the Far East in the late 13th and 14th centuries, however, it was not until the early 18th century that demand for European watches escalated and pieces were created specifically for the Chinese market. In the 19th century, wealthy Chinese ordered European-made pocket watches, to be decorated with elegant enamel motifs. In the 17th century, imperial workshops produced clocks, but the quality of both the movements and the decorations was inferior compared to those made in Europe.
Of the European pocket-watch makers, the most well-known were Ilbery of London and Bovet Fleurier and Vaucher Fleurier of Switzerland. The watchmakers traveled to Asia, and in some cases settle there, importing watch movements from Switzerland. Enamel work was done separately by Swiss artisan. Just as quickly as Chinese market watches came into fashion, the demand declined due to both industrialization and changing fashions. Many of these enamel pieces by the most well-known and respected makers would not go on to survive in good condition.
The following enamelled pocket watches are fine examples of timepieces made for the Chinese market, and since their appearance nearly 200 years ago, these attractive and rare watches are highly appreciated by collectors.
SIGNED BOVET FLEURIER, NO. 663, LATE 19TH CENTURY
Bovet Fleurier. A Fine and Rare 18k Gold, Enamel and Pearl-set Openface Duplex Pocket Watch with Center Seconds Made for the Chinese Market
Signed Bovet Fleurier, No. 663, Late 19th Century
Blued mirror-polished steel duplex movement, hinged glazed display cuvette, white enamel dial, Roman numerals, center seconds, large circular case, finely painted polychrome enamel mandarin duck set within a polychrome enamel mountain scene, pearl-set bezel, rim, pendant and bow, case stamped with Bovet hallmark, movement signed, rim of case back numbered