This spectacular Swiss Niello sterling antique pocket watch is a glowing example of Swiss craftsmanship and peerless design. It has the most detailed and romantic engraving in a beautiful Nouveau design.
It is a stand-out example because it is Swiss and fully hallmarked with a 9K rose gold cartouche.
The silver case was made by Huguenin Freres of Le Locle, Switzerland. Both the front and back are decorated with fine niello.
This refers to the blackened metals surrounding the graceful, inlaid silver design. The pattern is characterized by graceful swags of flowers and wreaths of olive leaves.
Parallel lines and stippled geometric shapes give the niello design a distinctive Art Nouveau look.
The front cover features an inlaid, oblong cartouche made of 9 karat rose gold with an engraved monogram that reads "WJ" in elegant script. The gold has been professionally tested to ensure its purity.
Following the inlay process, the niello is colored with a chemical oxidization technique. What appears to be tarnish is actually an original part of the design.
There is a small mark stamped into the interior of the back and front of the case that reads "NIEL HF". This was the mark of Huguenin Freres' who were expert case-decorators and specialized in niello.
There is another mark on the interior of both the front and back covers of the case that reads "D.B." This is for watch makers Philippe DuBois & Sons who, like the Huguenin brothers, were located in Le Locle, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1785.
When the button on the top of the winder is depressed, the front cover pops open.
Brothers Fritz Huguenin, engraver, and Albert Huguenin, engine-turner, established their small watch case decorating workshop in Le Locle in 1868. By the time the new century rolled around, the brothers were renowned world-wide for their exceptional niello technique.
The watch face is made of brilliant white porcelain and features beautiful, hand-painted Arabic numerals. There are four minute-indicator marks between each numeral.
A second-counter is located at 6 o'clock and also exhibits hand-painted numbers.
A simple black-painted brass hand acts as the second counter while the minute and hour hands are a beautiful gold-tone and exhibit complex decorative scrolling.
The mechanism works perfectly well and appears to be in excellent condition. There are no maker's marks on the mechanism itself; however, the regulator is engraved "Avance" (faster) and "Retard" (slower).
The interior of the mechanism-cover bears a beautiful design of engine-turned circles. There are several stamped marks on the interior of the mechanism cover; these include the "NIEL HF" that can be seen on the interior of the case covers.
Another mark on the interior cover reads "0.800" which indicates the silver content. The large and small turkey mark is also an indicator of the silver purity. This "turkey" mark can be seen again on one side of the watch's neck.
The mark with the crescent moon and crown is a post-1886 German proof mark for imported silver. The last mark on the mechanism cover reads "45333" and likely represents the model number.
The front and back case exhibit some slight wear near the hinge as well as some light patination. Overall, the pocket watch remains in outstanding antique condition.
Measurements: 2 1/8" diameter, 3" tall w/ winder and bale, 7/8" wide bale, watch face is 1 5/8" diameter, just under 1/2" thick Weight: 3.44 oz.
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