Gold automaton watch of c.1870 featuring a couple on a see-saw sold for €50,000 (£44,640) at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr.

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A group of 19 lots that had come from a European family were included in the watches and chronographs sale held by Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr (27.5/26/20/14.5% buyer’s premium) on October 13.

The emphasis in the collection was on late 18th and 19th century examples of luxury watchmaking featuring fine enamel decoration and including musical automaton watches and examples with erotic scenes.

Heading the collection was an gold open face automaton pocket watch from c.1870 decorated with enamelwork, seed pearls and diamonds.

It has a concealed automaton scene featuring a couple on a see-saw in a landscape with sheep, shepherds and an automaton windmill. When the man reaches for an overhanging gemstone apple, the branch shakes as he pulls it from the tree.

Estimated at €25,000-35,000, it sold for €50,000 (£44,640).


This c.1810 gold automaton watch featuring a lute player and a dancer made €45,000 (£40,180) at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr.

Another of the best-sellers at €45,000 (£40,180) was an 18ct gold open-faced musical automaton watch from c.1810.

This featured an engraved scene of Father Time on a globe to the dial while the case has a pastoral scene of a lute player resting against a tree and a lady dancing backwards and forwards.

Neither of these automaton watches was signed but they were in the style of celebrated makers such as Isaac Daniel Piguet or Henry Capt.

Military use

The highest price of the entire 116- lot auction came from the modern wristwatches: a Rolex military submariner from c.1974.

This stainless-steel automatic wristwatch was issued to the Royal Navy, double referenced, and made with specific enhancements as a direct order for the British military through the Military of Defence, setting them apart from their civilian equivalent.

The reference of 5513 on the case back and 5517 on the lug made this watch one of the first to be customised for military use.

It took €150,000 (£133,930).