Sotheby’s is all set to create history with the second edition of its private collection of enameled automata watches from early 19th century. The June sale of the important watches from New York will feature Swiss Mechanical Marvels Part II. The 20 timepieces that will be part of this auction represent the precision of technology and the spectacle of artistry. Hailing from a pre-digital world, these unique timepieces are also music boxes, snuff boxes and in one case a magician’s box. This collection is estimated to get $4-6 million.
Swiss Mechanical Marvels: sneak peek at the collection’s highlights
King Farouk Magician Box
The Magician Box is rectangular gold box decorated with four coloured gold flowers. The box opens to reveal an automata that has a wizard with a conical hat and boy with a lyre. Inset a question-inscribed tablet on the right hand side of the box to set the automata in motion. Enchanting music emanates from the box as the wizard waves his wand and consults his book. He finds your answer and sends it to you at the left hand side of the box. This snuff box is attributed to Piguet & Meylan, Goldsmith’s Mark of Chenevard Jouvet & Cie, Geneva. It is estimated at $1.5-2.5 million.
The Cherry Pickers
The Cherry Pickers is a gold enamel and pearl snuff box with concealed automaton and timepiece. A three-dimensional box, it features a girl and a boy picking cherries on the central lid. It is framed with pearls. When opened, it reveals the rectangular time dial. Next to it is an oval painting of a boy on an ox. The compartment on the right features a woman playing a hurdy gurdy, a conjurer waving his wand and a performer doing somersaults. The fine enamel on the reverse of the box depicts elopement. The piece is expected to fetch $400,000-600,000. It is attributed to Piguet & Capt, while the enamel is the work of Jean Louis Richter.
The Singing Bird Coffret
The gold, enamel and pearl coffret encloses a singing bird. The singing canary is the masterpiece of Jacob Frisard. The domed cover of the coffret holds a central medallion painted with enamel grape leaves. The bird sitting in the middle of the piece opens and closes its beak, flutters its tail and swivels its body. This bird box is similar to the one housed in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. It is estimated to get $400,000-600,000.
A Country Ramble
A Country Ramble is a gold enamel and pearl automation timepiece fashioned like a vase. The automation springs to action once the level on the side is pulled. It reveals a mother cradling a baby, a child playing with a branch, a hunter and two children playing with a whirligig along an enameled background. The creation of A Country Ramble is attributed to Piguet & Capt. And it is estimated to fetch $100,000-250,000.
More info on Swiss Mechanical Marvels at Sotheby’s auction preview page