LOUIS AUDEMARS & CIE Rare Victorian 14kt Hunter Case Enamel Pocket Watch - Made for Germany
Born in 1782, Louis Audemars was founded in 1811 by Louis-Benjamin Audemars in the Vallée de Joux, near le Brassus in Switzerland. Together, Audemars and his sons crafted high quality watch movements, repeaters, and chronograph mechanisms. Customary at the time, local watchmakers made unbranded movements which they sold to users in Geneva, and all over Europe, where the movements would be fitted with dials and cases, and sold under the brand or name of the purchaser. As such, a French, German, Russian, or British-made watch of the period often contained a movement from the Vallée de Joux. Audemars' ambition was to make complete cased watches signed with his own name, however he passed away in 1833. Fortunately, his 8 sons acquired the Company to help become the first enterprise in the region to make complete watches from start to finish. Between 1832 and 1837, the Company invented the keyless winding/setting system, "Breguet style" repeaters with independent centre seconds, "demi Breguet" calibers and Breguet anti-shock devices. The Company was soon recognized as one of the best for their ultra complicated watches and won various awards and distinctions around the world. Unfortunately, the original Company was bankrupt and liquidated in 1885, however three successor companies, including Louis Audemars & Cie. was run by one of his sons from 1885-1900, and who created this fantastic timepiece, which honors the original Company.
A rare and exquisite double-sided enameled hunter pocket watch made by the world-renowned watchmaking company Louis Audemars & Cie, during the late Victorian era (1885-1900). Presumably made for the German market, this 14kt rosy yellow gold self winding timepiece is etched with incredibly detailed images on either side, and embellished with stunning hand-painted enamel work. One side features a gorgeous scenic image of a house beside a bridge-covered stream, aside two pine trees and another distant home below beautiful mountains in the background. The other side displays a colorfully dressed jockey riding a horse in mid-trot near a fence and more beautiful mountains in the distance. The hand-painted enamel is wonderful, and adds warm shades of blues, caramel browns, light and soft greens to the design. Finishing the exterior is a gorgeous flowing etched border and accented with delicate flower motifs.
At the top of the piece is a textured gold handle, which also functions as the winder and push clasp to fasten the encasement. When opened, the encasement has several hinged compartments, revealing the watch face, decorative dust case, and working watch movement inside. The crystal covered watch face features black Roman numerals and iridescent blue dials, against a beautiful gold guilloché background. Adorning the dust case are 10 circular medal of honor stamps from various countries including France, Austria, the United States, Germany and Russia along with two Russian Imperial marks. The medals are likely representing the awards given to the original Audemars Company for their technological innovations and contributions to watchmaking. The words "DIPLOME D'HONNEUR" which translates to "Honorary Degree" are inscribed at the base of the case, along with "Louis Audemars," "Geneve" and the serial number, "No 153936."
Several hallmarks and purity stamps appear throughout the interior of the encasement, including several large and small Swiss squirrel hallmarks featuring the letter, "L" indicating the 14kt gold purity and that parts were assayed in the Swiss city of Le Locle between 1880-1934. There are also several German crown marks, indicating the manufacturer, "14C," 5E 0.585" gold purity marks, "LOUIS AUDEMARS" and multiple serial number stamps. Inscribed on the watch face and along the watch part case is "L. Audemars" in a beautifully etched script, and two maker's marks on the winder. A simple gold bail rests at the top, perfect for pairing this beautiful piece to a favorite chain. Absolutely stunning inside and out, this magnificent timepiece is a historical treasure and a must for any watch collector!
We want to thank Paul Audemars, the great-grandson of the founder of Louis Audemars & Cie who reviewed and verified this incredible watch and its history. In the 1920s, his great grandfather wrote a monograph about the history of the Companies, which Paul translated into English with notes and illustrations. It is now out of print, however a printed version is available for purchase from Paul, if desired.
Measurements: The pocket watch measures 2 5/8" tall (including the handle), has a 1 7/8" diameter, and is approximately 3/8" thick. The overall weight of the piece is 63.1 grams.
Condition: The pocket watch remains in excellent antique condition. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the gold setting or to the watch face and movement. The original box also remains in excellent condition. There is some very minor enameling wear on the side which features the horse, primarily within the rider's body and along the horse's head. Watches of this era should be cleaned and oiled periodically to keep them in good working order, however, currently, the watch keeps time and remains in excellent working condition.