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Pocket Watch with Blue Enamel and Glass Inlay

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Period: 19th century
Medium: Copper, gems, enamel
Origin: England
Dimensions: Diameter: 6.5 cm; thickness: 2.0 cm

The back of the gilt copper case is decorated with translucent blue enamel, on which inlaid glass gems form an octagonal radial star-shaped flower. Branch and leaf designs in colored enamel decorate the edges and the winding stem. The white enamel dial features gilt copper hands, while curled leaves are finely engraved onto the surfaces of parts of the movement. Moreover, an engraving shows the watchmaker and place of production: Ilbery, London.

William Ilbery (1760–1839) is considered one of the first great Western watchmakers to make dabajian (lit. “large eight pieces”, here referring to exquisite pocket watches for the Chinese market). His work exemplifies the development of these watches. Some parts of this watch show the trend toward transformation in movements among watches sold in China, but the mechanism is still driven by the traditional fusee chain. This is therefore likely one of his earlier pieces made for China.

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