Watchmaker: Daniel Vauchez French

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French enthusiasm for ballooning was sparked by the June 4, 1783, ascent of a hot air balloon created by Joseph and Étienne Montgolfier. Four months later, a Montgolfier balloon with a crew of a sheep, a duck, and a rooster was launched at Versailles in the presence of Louis XVI (1754–1793) and Marie Antoinette (1755–1793). The first human flight, which took place on November 21 that year, was witnessed by Benjamin Franklin, among others. The Museum’s watch is a typical novelty, and it demonstrates how greatly early attempts at human flight captured the French imagination. In the enamel a balloon is launched by three men, one carrying burning straw with which to ignite the flame that heated the air in the balloon.

Watch, Watchmaker: Daniel Vauchez (French, born 1716, active 1767–90), Case: partly enameled gold set with pearls, gold bezel with diamonds set in silver; Dial: white enamel with openwork brass hands; Movement: brass and steel, French, Paris

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