Watch, ca. 1660–70
Movement by F. L. Meybom, or Maybon; case attributed to Isaac Bergeron, dit d'Argent (French, recorded working 1649–94)
Movement: gilded brass, steel, partly blued, and silver; Case: blued steel, gilded brass, rock crystal, silver, and diamonds; Dial: painted enamel and basse–taille enamel on gold, with a single gold hand; 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 5/8 in. (3.2 x 3.2 x 1.6 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.1600)
Almost nothing is known about the watchmaker who signed the movement of this watch, F. Meybom AParis/St. Germain, except that he made at least three of these unusual square-plated movements. The Paris watchmaker Auguste Bretonneau (recorded working 1638–58) and Balthazar Martinot (recorded working 1661–97), both better known than Meybom, also made them. All three provided movements for cases that are almost identical to this one, and one of these has been plausibly attributed to the Paris goldsmith Isaac Bergeron. The case is covered with panels of blued steel overlaid with openwork floral designs of gold. It has a hinged cover of rock crystal with beveled sides set within a silver and diamond bezel that permits an unobstructed view of the white enamel chapter ring with its black numerals for the hours and decorative marks at the quarters. The center of the dial is a circle of dark-blue basse-taille enamel, and the spandrels are painted with pink and blue floral ornament, completing the extraordinarily rich effect.
Bergeron is recorded as a maker of watchcases in 1671, but as he was a Protestant, he was never allowed to become a master goldsmith in Paris. In 1686, he was probably the goldsmith on whose behalf King Louis XIV intervened by ordering that he be allowed to continue making watchcases. In 1694, he fled with his family to London.