Swiss - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: TWO Hong Kong Monday, May 30, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Swiss
    Year: Circa 1800
    Material: Three color gold and enamel
    Dimensions: 60 mm. diameter

  • Catalogue Essay

    This exceptional, and beautifully rendered, polychrome open face watch with Jaquermarts features a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, flanked by two allegories personifying Victory and Peace.

    According to our research, this watch is dated around the time Napoleon declared himself First Consul, following the Coup of 18 Brumaire on November 9th 1799, thus overthrowing The Directory. During this time, Napoleon famously cut his hair short, which had deep symbolic implications – it marked a change from Napoleon, the Revolutionary (see Bonaparte at the Pont d'Arcole), to Napoleon, the calm and stable leader. Indeed, coins from 1797 support the dating of this pocket watch. On the coin (see image below), Napoleon is pictured in profile, with his hair tied to the back. The coin reads “FRANCE OWES HIM THE VICTORY AND PEACE”, attesting to Napoleon’s military prowess and skill. It is likely that these coins were used as propaganda tools to stir support for the revolutionary who led successful battles during the French Revolutionary wars.

    Flanking Napoleon are two allegories of Victory and Peace, the very two attributes inscribed on the coin. The ladies don Greco-Roman white muslin garb which drape beautifully over their bodies. During the revolutionary years, neoclassical depictions were considered the highest form of virtue, representing symbolic ideals which French people aspired to embody. According to our research, the woman on the right personifies Peace, with her dove wings and a wreath. The woman on the left personifies Victory, with a garland wreath which represented victory and triumph in Greco-Roman culture.

    These attributes present a very compelling story, one which highlights Napoleon’s skill both as a victorious leader and peacemaker. He is pictured as a revolutionary, leading France towards victory. The hour and quarter repeating Jaquermarts only reinforce this notion, singing and chiming as to announce and celebrate Napoleon’s arrival.


A very fine and historically interesting three color gold and enamel quarter repeating watch with jaquemarts and enamel portrait of Napolean Bonaparte with allegorical figures representing victory and peace

Circa 1800
60 mm. diameter

HK$400,000 - 600,000 

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Ziyong Ho
+852 9386 2032

Jill Chen
+852 2318 2033

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: TWO

Hong Kong Auction 31 May 2016