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Amusing rings for the wealthy -- Part 3

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Posted 2 years ago

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Bluboi
(103 items)

Ring Watch
Most likely of Continental origin
Circa 1800

Rare ring watch, with no manufacturing marks, circa 1800. The oval blue enameled face is set with 2 dials -- the top is the second hand and the bottom show minutes and hours. There is a central diamond set balance; the case has a split pearl surround and is 1 inch high and ¾ inch wide. The interior photos show where the winding key would be inserted. It is a very large ring, either for a man or worn over gloves.

A ring watch is listed in a 1618 inventory of the Prince of Orange, but the first version which told reliable time was created in 1753 by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais for Madame Pompadour and then Louis XV.

Some history of ring watches:

Very few makers were capable of making ring watches, considered as marvels of watchmaking. In 1753, Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais invented a new escapement which he enclosed in ring watches for Madame de Pmopador and then for Louis XV. Additional makers, Piguet et Capt, Antoine Rojard, and Pierre Simon Gounouilhou started to produce ring wathes around 1800. There are records for approximately sixty ring watches from that period, only three are signed, or rather scratched (by Piguet et Capt).

Miniaturization in horology began in the 14th century. By the early 17th century, miniaturization was in full bloom. A German maker produced a small stack freed watch with a movement measuring only 10 mm, less than 4 ½'''! As early as the 1580s, watchmakers were fascinated with the idea of fitting a watch into a ring. Only a few succeeded. In the early days, successful attempts bedecked royalty.

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art there is a very early ring watch, dating from about 1560 and signed I.W. The Mantua archives contain a letter from James Widman to the Duke of Mantua concerning three ring watches, and it is quite possible that one of them is the one in the Metropolitan Museum.

In 1764, the young John Arnold presented an extraordinary ring watch to King George III of England. It was a half quarter repeater, less than two centimeters in diameter and had 120 parts. The watch brought fame to Arnold and established him as a very capable watchmaker. Czar Paul I of Russia offered Arnold double what George III had paid - already a small fortune of £500 - but Arnold refused. This ring is thought to be held by the Usher Art Gallery, Lincoln UK.

Examples of ring watches can be seen in:
- Rings, the Alice and Louis Koch Collection numbers 1141-1151
- British Rings, Charles Oman , Plate 96 and page 130
- Rings, Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty, Diana Scarisbrick, pg 336-341
- Five Centuries of Jewellery, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, pg 98

Comments

  1. kyratango kyratango, 2 years ago
    Thanks a lot for this educating post and amazing piece!
  2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
    Just an amazing item: top notch !!!!
  3. upstatenycollector upstatenycollector, 2 years ago
    Wow, beautiful piece! Love the enamel!!!
  4. racer4four racer4four, 2 years ago
    Beautiful, interesting, and the works must be tiny!
  5. Bluboi Bluboi, 2 years ago
    Thanks for your interest everyone! Racer, if I remember correctly, the long dimension of the top of the ring, not including the pearl bezel is around an inch long (maybe a bit more). So, yes, the parts must be tiny! The reason I can't give you an exact measurement....

    After I bought the ring, I wanted to see if I could get it to run. I found a local watchmaker who deals with antique watches. He did an initial examination (and found no maker's marks at all), but felt it could be carefully repaired so it would run again. That was 16 months ago.... I periodically hear from him and it sounds like he is getting close! I will be really happy to have it back in my hands though....
  6. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 2 years ago
    What an extraordinary thing, I scaled it down in Photoshop to see its real size, amazing when you see it in actual scale. Can you imagine who originally owned it? They must have been very wealthy to afford a bauble like this!
  7. antiquerose antiquerose, 2 years ago
    Wow -- Neat post, and item!! Thanks for that~~~
  8. Bluboi Bluboi, 2 years ago
    Hey Kiwi, would be interesting to see your scaled piece. As soon as I get this back, I will add in the dimensions. Yes, this bauble would have only been for the very rich! Sort of like these? http://www.watchtime.com/blog/million-dollar-watches/
  9. Bluboi Bluboi, 2 years ago
    Hi rucklczglass, Thank you for your comment. I do not know explicitly know the answer to your question, but my hypothesis is the band is removable so the internal mechanisms can be accessed easily.
  10. antiquerose antiquerose, 2 years ago
    These are SUCH SWEET POSTS !! Thank you !!!

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