A gold and enamel verge pocket watch of museum quality, with quarter repeater and the invention of Le Roy « à batte levée ».

A gold and enamel verge pocket watch of museum quality, with quarter repeater and the invention of Le Roy « à batte levée ». Le Roy developed a new arrangement of the repeater mechanism which gave him more rooms for the construction – this is one of the first pieces where he used this novel concept.

  • Case : 18k gold, enamel, rear bell.
  • Dial : enamel, outer frame signed and dated « Jul. Le Roy in 1740 ».
  • Movement : full plate movement, chain/fusee, 2 hammers, 1 bell, three-arm steel balance.

In 1740 Julien Le Roy developed a new arrangement for repeater watches which enlarged the annular frame. The cover was removed and the dial was fitted with a kind of cup that held the repeater mechanism. This construction reduced the size of the watch and gave it a new and more elegant appearance; soon Le Roy’s invention was adopted by other makers too.

The case is intricately ornamented with engraved, naturalistic gold flower and leaf garlands on engine-turned ground with translucent green enamelling. Open-worked volute cartouches near the rim serve as sound holes and two diamond-studded buttons open the case.

Julien Le Roy (1686 -1759) was one of the most outstanding clock- and watchmakers of his time and certainly played a decisive part in establishing the leading role French clockmaking had in the 18th century. He was born in Tours, and was trained under his father Pierre Le Roy. In 1699 Julien Le Roy went to Paris where he served his apprenticeship under Le Bon. He became a master in 1713, presented an equation clock to the Académie Royale des Sciences in 1717, and was appointed clockmaker to the king in 1739 (with his own rooms at the Louvre).

Le Roy invented the adjustable bracket for the verge escapement wheel (« potence »), the repetition strike on springs instead of bells for pocket watches, and the « all-or-nothing » piece for repeating watches. His inventions and improvements were of such extreme importance that most watchmakers adopted them promptly for their own pieces. Later Le Roy was director of the Société des Arts; he and his son supplied the entries on watches and clocks in the encyclopaedia compiled by Diderot and d’Alembert.

Julien Le Roy’s work can be found among the world’s greatest collections including the Musées du Louvre, Cognacq-Jay, Jacquemart-André and the Petit Palais in Paris. Other examples are housed in the Château de Versailles, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Guildhall in London, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, the Musée d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Museum der Zeitmessung Beyer, Zurich, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels, the Museum für Kunsthandwerck, Dresden, the National Museum in Stockholm, the Musea Nacional de Arte Antigua, Lisbon, the J. P. Getty Museum in California; the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore and the Detroit Institute of Art.

French, ca. 1740.

Diameter : 48 mm.

Weight : 135 g.

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