Bovet pocket watch for the Chinese market, $30,000 (£23,500) at Legend Artworks.

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Many English and Swiss clocks and pocket watches were made specifically for the Far Eastern market.

The colourful gem-set and enamelled pocket watches made in the town of Fleurier in Switzerland by two companies (Bovet and Juvet) played a dominant role in the export trade to China after the 1820s. Edouard Bovet even went as far naming his company Bo Wei, the Cantonese word for watch.

The example offered by Legend Artworks (28% buyer’s premium) in Rosemead, California, on March 9 was typical. The 56mm, 18ct gold case, pendant and bail are set with half pearls. To one side is a white enamel dial, to the other a polychrome enamel scene of a tiger hunt. It opened to reveal a typical Fleurier ‘Chinese market’ duplex escapement with all the components of the movement heavily engraved.


Bovet pocket watch for the Chinese market, $30,000 (£23,500) at Legend Artworks.

Although the auction house speculated the watch may be over 200 years old, it was more probably made in the second half of the 19th century. It is signed both Bovet and with the Chinese characters for Bovet Fleurier.

The guide was a broad $200-10,000 but, as prices for these watches have risen sharply in the past two decades with renewed Chinese interest, a number of interested parties competed well above the top estimate.

The hammer price was $30,000 (£23,500).