SALOMON PLAIRAS BLOIS. An antique french gold and enamel pocket watch, c. 1630-35.
A large 20ct gold and enamelled, pre-balance spring pendant watch, signed on the backplate Salomon Plairas horlogeur A Blois, c. 1630-1635. The front cover enamel painting depicts the Virgin Mary with Child and St John the Baptist, whilst the back cover shows the Holy Family, after a painting by Simon Vouet (1590 – 1649) La Sainte Famille à l’Oiseau. The inside front cover has a painting of the Annunciation, the inside back cover a village with fishermen, whilst the dial depicts a landscape and the band a continuous landscape with houses and people. The day-going spring-driven movement has a gut fusee, verge with balance, pinned-on pierced and engraved cock and worm and wheel set-up regulator. • Diameter: 59 mm. • Provenance: Schloss Collection – Maurice Sternberger Collection (sold Christie’s London 1937) - H. Marryat Collection – The Time Museum Collection (sold Sotheby’s New York 1999). • Note: A very similar watch is in the Fondation Edouard et Maurice Sandoz in Switzerland, but missing all the enamel decorations from the band. • The maker, Salomon Plairas (Blois 1605 – 1684) painted the case in pastel colours on a distinctly white background, which is an early example of the Blois peinture sur émail as introduced by Jean Toutin and his sons Henri and Jean ca. 1625. These Blois enamelled watches were extremely valuable and were sold to most of the Royal Houses in Europe. An example is the watch in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, made for the wedding of Willem II of Orange with Maria Stuart in May 1641. Painters such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Murillo and others, painted portraits in which the sitter wears his watch as a sign of high social status. Very rare examples are exhibited in the collections of the Louvre, British Museum, Metropolitan Museum and the Patek Philippe Museum. • Exhibitions: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, for many years on loan before 1937; The Time Museum, Rockford, Illinois, U.S.A. , before 1999, Inventory N° A673. • Literature: F.J. Britten, Old Clocks and Watches, London, 1932, p.187, Figures 241-243; H. Marryat, Watches, London, 1938, Vol 1, pp.50-51, fig E3 (3 illustrations); Cecil Clutton and George Daniels, Watches, 3rd edition, 1979, colour plate XVI, fig C.