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Calendar Watch

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Calendar Watch

Artist: Maker unknown (Switzerland)

Date: c. 1800
Medium: Gold, enamel, steel
Dimensions:
41.3 x 41.3 x 9.5 mm
Markings: Case: cm cameo lozenge "J[?] / M, Mourgeon(?)"
Credit Line: Proctor Collection, Thomas R. Proctor Watch Collection
Object number: PC. 394
Label Text
For everyday and special occasions at the end of the eighteenth century, women chose what was referred to as "sentimental" jewelry such as lockets and pendants that were often fashioned in the shape of a heart. This watch is open-faced and features two timekeeping dials--the larger marking hours and minutes, the smaller displaying a day-of-the-month calendar. The engraved decoration includes a pansy. In the nineteenth-century "language of flowers" the pansy signaled the viewer to "think of me."

Text Entries

At the end of the eighteenth century diamond suites and strings of pearls were de rigueur jewelry for formal occasions. For everyday and more personal occasions, women wore what was referred to as sentimental jewelry, such as lockets and pendants that were often fashioned into the shape of a heart and contained plaits of hair of loved ones(1) This vogue extended to watches featuring heart-shaped cases that were available with a wide range of decorative embellishments and timekeeping functionality.(2) This watch is open faced and features two timekeeping dials—the larger marking hours and minutes, the smaller displaying a day-of-the-month calendar. To the right of this calendar dial, an aperture of equal size offers a view of the operation of the polished steel balance wheel with spiral arms. The engraved decoration begins between the calendar and the balance wheel, where a bird holds two vines that trail around the perimeter of the case and meet at the bottom at a pansy. In the nineteenth century flowers and plants were given specific sentimental significance. Known as the “language of flowers,” these meanings were commonly known, and images of flora appeared on jewelry as well as on watchcases. The pansy flower on this watch reminds the wearer to “think of me.” The reverse of the case is engraved with a basket of flowers, birds, and flowering vines.

1. For an illustration of a heart-shaped pendant from this period, see Shirley Bury, Jewelry, 1789-1910: The International Era, 2 vol. (Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eng.: Antique Collectors' Club, 1991), vol. 1:54, fig. 16a, and for a locket, vol. 1:71, pl. 15.

2. For an illustration of a heart-shaped watch by Breguet of Paris, see ibid., vol. 1:66, pl. 12.