Pair–case automaton watch, ca. 1770–75
Signed by James Cox (English, ca. 1723–1800)
Outer case: gold, partly enameled and set with gemstones and paste jewels; inner case: gold with casemaker's mark of Peter Mounier (English, recorded 1761–73); dial: white enamel, with frame set with paste jewels; movement: brass, steel, and silver; Diam. of outer case: 2 1/2 in. (5.4 cm)
Gift of Audrey Love, in memory of C. Ruxton Love, Jr., 1977 (1977.436.4)
When activated, the eight rosettes, or stars, spin within the rotating frame on the dial of this watch, which is closely 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" probably found their way into European possession by happenstance. The movement has a verge escapement with a diamond end-stone and is numbered 1393.