Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Pair-case automaton watch

James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800)
Case maker: Peter Mounier (recorded 1761–73)
ca. 1770
British, London
Outer case: gold, partly enameled and set with gemstones and paste jewels; Inner case: gold; Dial: white enamel, with frame set with paste jewels; Movement: with diamond endstone
with bail, confirmed: 2 1/2 × 1 3/4 × 15/16 in. (6.4 × 4.4 × 2.3 cm) outer case, confirmed: 3/4 × 2 1/16 × 2 1/16 in. (1.9 × 5.2 × 5.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Audrey Love, in memory of C. Ruxton Love Jr., 1977
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 510
When activated, the eight rosettes, or stars, spin within the rotating frame on the dial of this watch, which is pavé-set with paste jewels. A number of these automata survive; they were incorporated into objects probably intended for export to both China and India, but they may also have been made for English patrons. A large number of items intended for export were included in Cox’s lottery of 1773, and more were auctioned in London after he declared bankruptcy in 1778, so some of these amusing “toys” may have found their way into European possession by happenstance.

[Clare Vincent, 2007]
Signature: Movement with verge escapement, signed (on the back plate): James Cox/1393 London

Inscription: XIIII (on inner rim of face plate)

Marking: Inner case: PM [casemaker’s mark for Peter Mounier (recorded 1761–73)]
Audrey B. Love (until 1977; to MMA)
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