Mechanical watches and clocks have been born for rights and wealth since the beginning.
Early humans had a variety of primitive timekeeping methods. Anyone can judge the approximate time by rising or falling or other methods. But when timing becomes a standard behavior, timing is controlled by rights and imperial power, and even individual timing behavior is illegal. The monarchy grants it, and the ‘secret’ of time must be granted and controlled by the monarch. The ancient cities of China all had bell towers and drum towers, and the imperial court in the imperial court were all things and people related to ‘making’ time.
Gui watch and sundial are timing tools for early people
The clock tower is an important place for giving time to the city in the ancient city center of China
The early European mechanical clock was also produced. As early as around the 13th century, the church built large clocks driven by stone or metal hammers in the church for the assembly and well-known congregations. You need to use the original method to measure the time, and then ring the bell and tell the time by the person (the same is true of China’s ‘make a change’). And the big clock has a clock dial showing the real time, so that people in the city can read the time through the big clock at any time.
The earliest mechanical clock with a hammer as a stone
The ancient bell tower of Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, has a history of more than 500 years
The ancient clock tower in Bern, Switzerland, has been telling the time in the city since the 16th century
After the clunky early mechanical clocks were produced, European emperors and nobles were not satisfied when they went to the church to watch the clocks. They wanted the clocks to enter their palaces. In this way, the mechanical clocks gradually became smaller. In the palace, it is no less than the church bell outside. It must be more magnificent and show authority and dignity. Therefore, various decorative arts and religious subjects have begun to be displayed on the bell. The most important and direct nature is gold sculpture and luxurious Jewellery. Next, with the improvement of clock technology and the emergence of new inventions, the clock has become more and more miniaturized. The clock that has stood firmly on the ground has become a relatively light table clock, a wall clock, and a portable handy bell. At this time, the emperor and the wealthy had a new idea. They should carry the timepiece with them, and carry it elegantly and gorgeously. Thus, in the early 16th century, the earliest watches were manufactured and produced in Germany. After that is the history of 500 years of common development and development of watches and clocks.
A large bell used by the European ambassadors ‘tribute’ used in the Qing court in the 18th century, or a clock made by the Qing Watchmaking Office
A magnificent and precious astronomical clock made in Germany in the middle of the 17th century.
16th and 17th century clocks and watches
The world’s first portable ‘watch’ was born in Germany in 1510. Since then, the history of watches and clocks has been written simultaneously
However, until the end of the 19th century, clocks could only be owned by a few people because it was too expensive: a gorgeous clock or watch can often buy a house or at least how many cattle, sheep, horses and horses. Because the production cost is really high. Although there were industrialized production of watches and clocks in the early 19th century, the production of high-end watches and clocks is still slow-paced and few people are competent. Each piece of work requires a long time and investment. It is not uncommon for a gorgeous and complicated pocket watch or clock to be made over several years or even ten years. The maintenance cost is not affordable. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, the cost of repairing and maintaining a high-end watch might be the cost of living for the average person for a year-in fact it is still not? The cost of sending a sophisticated watch once for repairs is huge. Therefore, mechanical clocks have a history of nearly 1,000 years and did not enter ordinary people’s homes until nearly 100 years. And that’s just a general clock. Haute Horlogerie, its role and identity have not changed much. It’s just that there are fewer emperors now, and they are all replaced with ‘local tyrants’ …
1783 bird cage clock from Jacques de Lo, owned by Emperor Qianlong of China, and perfume bottle watches owned by other periods
In China in the 18th and 19th centuries, anyone who could own a clock must have been a rich or noble palace aristocrat, or a wealthy official. The picture on the right depicts the story scene in A Dream of Red Mansions.
One of the existing robot puppets in the Forbidden City is part of the magical gentleman puppet made by Jacques Dro. With the help of automatic machinery, you can write the eight characters of ‘Eight Direction, Nine Earth Kings’ with a brush. 18th century top watch pieces made to satisfy the preferences of the Chinese emperor
Breguet travel clock (purchased in 1798), owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, with him on the battlefield
This Breguet pocket watch numbered ‘NO.5’ is almost arguably one of the most beautiful clocks in history. The pocket watch No. 5 was made by Abraham-Louis Breguet for the Count of Saint Miat. It was developed in 1787 and it took 7 years to make it in March 1794.
In 1783, a mysterious admirer ordered a “peerless” pocket watch from Breguet as a gift to Queen Marie Antoinette. It took 44 years (nearly half a century!) To complete this watch from ordering to 1827. At that time, the queen had died 34 years, and Mr. Baodi had also died 4 years. His descendants delivered the watch. This is a timepiece with love and time intertwined
In 1837, the 18-year-old girl Victoria ascended the throne of the British Queen and began her 64-year rule. The earliest pocket watch of this Patek Philippe was selected at the Great Exhibition in London on August 18, 1851, and was retained by Queen Victoria for nearly 50 years.
In the first half of the 20th century, Shanghai was the most developed and fashionable city in the Far East. Almost the most famous Swiss and European watch brands came to China to open up markets. The up-and-coming celebrities of the Republic of China were all wearing fashion watches. This is a picture of the famous movie star Chen Yunshang wearing a watch. Over the years, her beauty is no different from today’s big stars, and even more delicious. Perhaps on her wrist was the most popular Longines “Kun watch” (women’s watch)
This is a gift from friends of Chiang Kai-shek and Song Meiling during their wedding in 1927. It is a square elegant mechanical clock.
The famous American banker Henry Graves customized a most complicated pocket watch at that time to Patek Philippe in 1925. This watch took 7 years to complete in 1932 and was then delivered in 1933. In 1999, the watch set a historical auction record for watches at an auction price of $ 11 million; 15 years later, in 2014, this legendary pocket watch set a record for today’s watch auction for nearly 150 million yuan.
If a Ferrari sedan costs two or three million, then the Vacheron Constantin ultrathin minute repeater watch is comparable to its price.
If a Bugatti Super Car is priced at more than 20 million, then the price of a Patek Philippe 175th anniversary commemorative edition rare watch 5175 is also comparable to it.
Now watch lovers and rich people in China know that there is a Basel watch fair in Switzerland, because in this watch fair you can see the most complete and most famous watch brands, see the most complete newest watch in a year. Many watches can only be seen at the Baselworld Watch & Jewellery Show, otherwise they may only be seen in pictures or at auction houses sometime in the future. Because of many unique or specially customized watches with limited editions, they only appeared at the Basel Watch Fair, and have since been directly included in the watch’s main pocket and collection.
The Basel watch exhibition is gorgeous, suits and leather shoes, handsome men and beautiful women, such as clouds, is the biggest event of the year in the international watch industry. The world’s most well-known media (you cannot imagine 3,000 multimedia people reporting at the same time) will gather in Basel at this moment to meet about 150,000 visitors. All the brand CEOs made their debuts, were full of chicken blood, and welcomed guests, media and buyers from all over the world during the 8-day exhibition period. The rare big-name CEOs are very accented and reserved in front of the media, but if you are a big customer, he will also lower all the value, make tea and coffee for you, tell you jokes, and recommend their good watches Give you. Therefore, this is a super business gathering and a super lively private gathering. Some people may do nothing. They just want to meet all the rare friends and customers who meet and meet in these days. Every day after the exhibition, the door outside Basel’s main exhibition hall must become the most lively, high and passionate place in the city. Every night, Basel’s restaurants and taverns will sing every night until the Basel Table Fair ends.
In the past two years, due to economic reasons, brands have been working pragmatically and have not been foolish. Bring the exquisite watches that can be worn-crazy years, all eyes are full of strange and unique characters. Not to mention, even the independent brand MB & F, which has always been astonishingly unstoppable, now the new watch is quite satisfactory and ‘wearable’.
On the left is the usual bizarre shape of the MB & F watch, and on the right is its relatively ‘regular’ watch.
In addition, this is a period of Swiss watchmaking decorative culture and art return. Various dial art cases that have been lost or stagnated, or even never used, have been dug out to decorate watches. At the same time, artistic and cultural elements of various countries also appear on the dial. In a word, everything is for the beauty of the watch. Let people from all over the world ‘love at first sight’. Because of the cooling down of China’s crazy watch consumer market, brands will not only cater to the Chinese market, but also design and develop new cultural element watches.
The rationalization of the price of high-end watches is also the mainstream reflected from the Basel and Geneva exhibitions in 2015. Even if many people and the media have not realized it, they continue to erroneously shout ‘rising up.’ The consumer market for luxury watches with huge potential, such as China, has matured. In fact, the spring of Swiss luxury watches sales has really arrived. But they can no longer face the Chinese market and users as willfully and defiantly as before. In the future, Chinese users will be more picky and experienced than European users.
A few days before the writing of this article, I just returned from the annual Geneva watch spring auction scene. In mid-May of each year in Geneva, several of the most important watch auctions of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Antigoron, etc. are held together, and the world’s most important collectors and buyers are on-site or ‘online’ (phone, Internet) Gather and compete for the best antique clocks and used watches in Geneva. A Patek Philippe chronograph small steel watch produced in 1927 has a mottled dial, but it has been sold for more than 30 million yuan; and an old pocket watch that you can no longer wear and can only be stored at home, but it is absolutely beautiful that you are drunk The exquisite ‘Chinese market watch’ made in the enamel surface around 1820s was sold for over 1.5 million yuan. The top-quality items in these ‘Chinese market tables’ are basically the objects in the Qing Dynasty imperial palace or at least the possessions of royal officials and even the emperor’s toys. The price of the special ‘Chinese market watch’ is definitely not high.
A small 35mm Patek Philippe chronograph in the late 1920s, recently sold for a huge price of about 30 million yuan in Geneva
An exquisite ‘Chinese watch’ from the first half of the 19th century (a timepiece made especially for the Chinese market in Europe and Switzerland during this period), which is difficult to wear on the wrist and can only be displayed, sold for more than 1.5 million yuan.
The possession of wealth is endless. The possession of beauty is very limited. Whether it is a watch you like to wear on your wrist or your collection of old clocks and old pocket watches that you often enjoy playing, it will make you richer happier.
And, this joy, as long as you are willing or expecting, one day, it can be vividly passed on to your next generation.
Time is still moving, love and life are so gorgeous.