October 2011 Archives

Antiquorum's November 13th auction features a late 19th Century pocket watch with an unusual 24-hour dial. There were a series of these sold as simple watches, many under the marque "Chronometre Gondolo", but I've never seen one with any complications, and this one has basically all of them. To quote from the sale catalogue:

The highlight of the sale is the recently discovered Patek Philippe full 24-hour repeating, quarter and special-type five-minute repeating 24-hours in one revolution pocket watch. This exceptional watch was originally sold to Monsieur E. Hoesch, Villa Barbaia, Mergellina, Naples, on November 27, 1894 for 3750 Swiss Francs. It is a highly important 18K pink gold, keyless pocket watch with perpetual calendar, chronograph, moon phases, and lunar calendar accompanied by the original certificate of origin and Patek Philippe sales receipt.

Estimate: Sfr 200'000- 300'000

a603.jpg (source)

The 5 smaller pictures below the main watch are:

  • Top row - hour snail and 1/4 hour wheel from the repeater
  • Middle - QP plate
  • Bottom - repeater mechanism (front of the movement), chronograph and escapement (back of the movement)

For those of slightly less substantial means, Patek currently has a a time-only wristwatch line called the Gondolo. A few years back they released the 5098p, probably the nicest model in that line.


Walking down the street

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In honor of the long wet walk to dinner tonight


Roger Parry. Boulevard Poissonniere, 1943


Ornella Iannuzzi Opals

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Ornella Iannuzzi is a French-born and educated, but London-based jeweler. Though her website is painful to use, her actual work is quite lovely, working from naturalistic forms, but more geological then floral, and the occasional Art Nouveau curl.

Her newest collection is called Lucy in Wonderland and is based around the recently-discovered Wello Opal from Ethiopia.

First three pairs of earrings, the first two with a honey-theme to the design.

A Drop of Tej 6ct of opal set into 18kt gold with diamond accentsSweet Honey 11ct of opal set in 18kt gold.
Holy Water 5.5ct of opal set in 18kt gold with diamonds for accents

Also in the collection are some rings, including these three "Coral" pieces

Wello Coral rings. Top ring is in black rhodium plated silver with a diamond on top and a Wello opal sphere, price from £1,100. Left ring is in vermeil with blue silver with a diamond on top and a Wello opal sphere, Price from £1,550. Right ring is in yellow gold with a diamond on top and a Wello opal sphere, price from £2,500.

And my far-and-away favorite piece, this Axum ring. The massive 18kt gold body, styled into possibly the rays of the sun, but strongly reminiscent of some ancient Egyptian designs, encloses a 7ct hand-carved opal



West, M. L. Indo-European Poetry and Myth.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007.

   What this book tries to do is trace elements of epic stories through the Indo-European prehistory, from Hittite and early Indian epics to late-medieval eastern Europe.  The book is organized into 12 rather large chapters (overall text is just over 500 pages), each is then broken into subsections.  The subsectional breakdown is not regular, sometimes it's by topic (i.e. Chap 11: Kings, The Queen, King and Horse, etc) and sometimes it is by region (Chap 7: Nymphs, Indian Nymphs, Iranian, etc.).  The overall conclusions about thematic elements, which are truly Indo-European, which belong to a subgroup and which came from outside sources, are conservative enough to not come across as "ooh, I found a thing somewhere else, must be a pattern" and well defended.  The author has command of a wide range of sources, translating all but the most obscure (primarily the Nartic tales and early Lithuaian works) himself.  The one weakness of this approach is it doesn't always provide a immediate reference if one is looking for the context of a quote.  A larger problem with the primary-source use is that it expects, at a minimum, a knowledge of Latin, French and the ability to read ancient Greek.  Familiarity with Russian, at least the alphabet, would have helped with a few sections as well.  
     Occasionally, throughout the text, West lets his "cleverness" run away from the direction of the text.  These pieces would probably be amusing in the context of a spoken lecture, but in the text they are an odd digression, eg. "The ancient (H)rego...was a rector, a director, a corrector..." (p. 413) or in a discussion on the slaying of dragons, "Now, of course, dragons are a protected species and it is illegal to harm them...." (p. 430).  These don't add much to the argument but interrupt the flow of the text.   These complaints are minor in the context of the excellent, if weighty, work and do not give me pause in praising it. It's not only interesting for the subject matter, but the primary sources are so wide ranging that, when one can read them, they provide previously unknown mythologies.  This book would be especially of interest to one writing in the style of earlier epics, as the topical organization provides a ready reference for form and content.  
     It suffers from Oxford University Press disease, the paperback edition is $85, but if you can find it in a library, I highly recommend it


E. R. B. L.

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Apparently he's as trite a poet as he was verbose as a writer.  The illustration, signed J. H. W, isn't too impressive either.

Lytton, Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, Earl of, 1831-1891.
Lucile : manuscript, [not before 1860]
MS Am 889.433



Skulls for Cheap

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Ever wanted Damien Hirst's For the Love of God, but cheap and tacky and devoid of even the passing interest of controversy? Franck Montialoux has got you covered with these vaguely-skull-like pieces cast in silver, some even set with real semi-precious stones!

Napoleon ring, with "real" sapphires for the eyes, 625€Edmond Dantés ring in silver and blackened silver, 440€
Marie Antoinette necklace set with semi-precious stones and fresh-water pearls, 625€Sitting Bull necklace, set with garnets and semi-precious stones, 685€



Happy Mickey!

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Well I'm sure I've seen worse...
In celebration of the 80th birthday of Mickey Mouse Disney has teamed-up with Chopard to release a series of jewelry and watches.  The Watches are of the usual "happy sport" style, but with a little black-and-white diamond mickey head instead of the fish. It is interesting to see them working with Chopard and not Bulgari since Disney and Gerald Genta had a long relationship for Mickey (and occasionally Goofy) themed watches.


The Happy Mickey pendant, in white, rose and yellow
gold set with black, white, yellow and pink diamonds, rubies, onyx
cabochons eyes, with one mobile diamond; on a white gold chain set with
blue and pink sapphires, emeralds, rubies and amethysts. Retail will be £132,00



Continuing from last time we now have various rings from the auction preview. The first three pictures are from the Moscow preview.

Van Cleef and Arpels ring from 1974 set with a 32.14 ct. cognac-colored diamond
Marina Zakharova
Lorraine Schwartz diamond ring. The main stone is 27.42 ct.
Marina Zakharova
Van Cleef & Arpels ring, a 1968 Christmas gift from husband Richard Burton. The center stone is a 8.24ct ruby. ($1,000,000-1,500,000)
Marina Zakharova


From Christies press photos, these Bulgari emerald pieces match the emerald necklace in the previous posting, along with a set of earrings (photoless).

Bulgari emerald ring, estimate $600,000-$800,000Bulgari emerald pendent, estimate $500,000-$700,000

(from Christie's, Copyright 2011, Christie's Images, LTD)

And from one of the other press(In LA at the MOCA) events a shot of the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, a 33ct VS1 D-color stone. Formerly known as the Krupp diamond, after the German industrialists(once armorers, now they make elevators) who owned it, it was sold to Ms Taylor in 1968 for about $305,000. It was so much a part of her usual attire that it made an animated appearance when she did a guest spot on The Simpsons.

20e2c471200c1214f80e6a706700679c.jpg AP Photo/Richard Drew


The florid prose and the CamelCase product name is well matched to the fountain-pen (msrp about $2,000)


This unique pen with its impeccably sleek profile and smooth curves is entirely made in Switzerland, although it looks as if it has just emerged from a NASA lab or from the desk of Major Boothroyd, the iconoclastic inventor of the James Bond accessories. Nonetheless, the sheer purity and simplicity of the design also evoke the golden age of aeronautics, the glorious era of the first Paris-New York flights, spiced up with a dash of Art Deco style. This tribute to third millennium design is a compendium of aesthetic appeal featuring an extremely playful DNA, enriched by the finest expression of the expertise cultivated by RJ-Romain Jerome in the domain of fusing materials.

 Moon dust, embodying all human fantasies of exploring the sky, is encapsulated in the cockpit bubble, and the resulting eloquent invitation to escape earthbound reality is interpreted in three different versions : Heavy Metal, Black Metal and Vintage, each adorned with 48 handapplied rivets. To ensure take-off in the best possible conditions, the MoonFighter is protected by a leather pouch and, upon returning from its missions, fits neatly into its carbon-finished docking station.



Starting on December 13th, Christies will be auctioning off Elizabeth Taylor's collection of jewelry with proceeds to benefit her AIDS charity ETAF. The preview show has started and is making its way around the world before coming to rest for the sale in New York which means that photos of the pieces have started trickling out. I'll start with just the previewed necklaces.

First a pair of shots of an emerald and diamond necklace by Bulgari originally given to Taylor by Richard Burton

REUTERS/Fred ProuserAP Photo/Richard Drew

More Necklaces

Sapphire and diamond necklace by Mouaward with matching earrings
AP Photo/Misha Japaridze
A gold and ivory necklace which was a gift from the estate of Edith Head. The Ivory disks are 19th and 18th century opera passes.
AP Photo/Richard Drew
One of a suite of Kunzite, amethyst and diamond "Triphanes" jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels. It is estimated at $70,000 - $100,000.
AP Photo/Richard Drew
"The Taj Mahal Diamond," (c. 1627), on a gold and ruby chain by Cartier, was a gift from Richard Burton for her 40th birthday in 1972. The central diamond is engraved with the words "Love is Everlasting" in Parsee. It is estimated at $300,000 - $500,000.
AP Photo/Richard Drew
A ruby, diamond and pearl necklace by Cartier with the La Peregrina 60-carat natural pearl pendant The necklace is expected to bring $3 million at auction.
REUTERS/Fred Prouser
The so-called "Grandmother's Necklace", with matching earrings, by Van Cleef and Arpels in front of a Warhol "Liz Taylor" screen-print (not owned by Ms Taylor). The necklace and earring set were a present from Richard Burton to commemorate the birth of Taylor's first grandchild.
AP Photo/Misha Japaridze

(source note that that page is a nightmare of ads and javascript pain, and the second image in the slideshow is Hank Williams Jr.)

Back when there was still a BNB they were working on a wristwatch version of the Antikythera mechanism, a 1st Century BCE mechanical sky map.  Now that they're Manufacture Hublot, that project has been continued and Hublot has shown off the prototype at the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris(Previously Mentioned).

The original is flattened, broken and corroded(left), so most of the understanding on the internals is based on CAT scans(right)


The watch movement is not yet finalized, but they've released a rendering (below) and over at thePurists Andrew (219) has some live pics of the protoype from the press reception last night.


I don't usually bother with the full movement specs, but these are not the usual "gear, screw and jewel count":

Hublot Antikythera - Calibre 2033-CH01

  • Movement functions:
    • Hours, minutes, Seconds via the tourbillon cage
    • Flying tourbillon without ball bearing
    • Manual winding
  • View of dial
    • Egyptian Calendar
    • Calendar for the Panhellenic games
    • Zodiac
    • Aperture showing moon
    • Lunar phases
    • Aperture showing sun
  • View of bridges
    • Metonic cycle
    • Saros cycle
    • Callippic cycle
    • Exeligmos cycle

Main Physical Characteristics

  • Dimensions of shaped movement
    • Width 30.40 mm
    • Length 38.00 mm
    • Thickness 14.14 mm (overall dimensions)
  • Time-setting stem (3 o'clock) 2-position
    • Manual winding, Time setting
  • Number of jewels: 69
  • Number of components:495
  • Hairspring:Flat for extremely accurate setting
  • Frequency: 21,600 Vib/h (3 Hz)
  • Power reserve: Approximately 120 hours (5 days)
  • Oscillator (made in-house)
    • Balance with adjustment inertia-blocks
    • Moment of inertia: 16mg/cm2
    • Lift angle: 53°

They've also released a little introductory video (with an unpleasant narrator, but some good video)


Cartier Sortilège

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Cartier(mentioned before) threw a massive bash in the Villa Aurelia, a 17th century Roman palazzo built by Cardinal Girolamo Farnese, to release their new members in their Sortilège (enchantment) collection.

Some of the familiar Cartier faces were there, including actresses Monica Bellucci and Fan Bing Bing, along with the Italian actress Isabella Ferrari and Polish actress/model Kasia Smutniak. The piece Ms Ferrari is wearing is one of the older pieces in the collection, it was on display in their boutique in 2008.

Monica BellucciFan Bing Bing
Isabella FerrariKasia Smutniak


There are an ocean of more pictures of the reception

Some more of the new pieces

Sapphire and diamond earrings set in platinumPlatinum ring set with diamonds and coral beads. (The PR didn't mention the material of the black accents, possibly black onyx)
Aquamarine bracelet, with a large pear shaped stone and beads in shades of blue. The main element is platinum with moonstone and diamonds accents and a single Tahatian pearlPearl bracelet with a platinum accent, set with a large polished Rubelite, diamonds and black onyx
Platinum ring with a faceted ruby set in the middle of a piece of rock crystal. It's an intriguing effect.White gold ring with pink and purple sapphires and diamonds. The polished, not faceted, sapphires allow the sparkle of the underlying diamonds to be seen, an unusual effect



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