Pocket watch
France, Rouen, 1600
Master F. Legrand
Silver, metal, glass;
niello, carving, gilding

Since the 15th century, masters began
creating pocket sundials and compasses.
The Moscow Kremlin Museums preserves
a rare example by the Rouen watchmaker
F. Legrand, which combines a mechanical
watch with a sundial, and compass placed under a glass.

The Sundial is the oldest type of timepiece, known as far back as ancient Egypt.
Gnomonics - the art of making sundials - developed rapidly in Europe in the 16th
and 17th centuries, and specific treatises
were dedicated to it.
The timepiece is adorned with portraits of the French King Francis I on the upper lid and his wife Eleanor on the lower one.
The maker’s mark in French is ornamented with a refined
element in the form of a flower
on a thin, soft stem – echoed by
floral motifs on a filigree key plate.
The decoration also includes a landscape in the centre of the
dial - a hand circles it, symbolising
the image of the earthly world prevalent at the time - a sphere
with an image of land, water,
plants and sometimes miniature architectural structures inside.
A gilt ring with Roman numerals
is surrounded by a niello decoration with silver figures of angels,
a cherub, birds, and flower ornament. These details were given a symbolic meaning: a repeated motif of pairs (embracing angels, birds), while
flowers would represent prosperity
or the wishing for it.
The decorative solution of the
pocket watch is an example
f the craftsmanship of the creator
in the combination of gilt and
white silver, as well as the niello technique. The portraits of the royal couple are of a high artistic level.
The niello background of the
clock-face is complimented by
luminous figures of angels, a cherub
and flowers.