Maker: Watchmaker: Isaac Penard (Swiss, 1619–1676)

Maker: Casemaker: probably the Firm of Moulinié, Bautte & Moynier (Swiss, 1808–21)

Date: case ca. 1810–20, movement ca. 1650

Culture: Swiss, Geneva

Medium: Case: silver; Dial: silver, partly nielloed; Movement: gilded brass and steel

Dimensions: Overall: 2 × 1 3/8 × 1 9/16 in. (5.1 × 3.5 × 4 cm)

Classification: Horology

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.1575


The lower jaw is hinged to the base of the skull to make a cover for the dial of the watch. The dial is engraved and filled with niello marking the hours with Roman numerals (I–XII) and the half hours with fleurs-de-lis. The skull watch was a specialty of Geneva, and to a lesser extent of Blois, both prominent centers of Protestant watchmakers during the first decades of the seventeenth century. Isaac Penard was a native Swiss who was apprenticed to the Genevan master Jacques Sermand (1595–1651), a well-known maker of skull watches as well as watches in such shapes as tulip buds, crosses, and stars.