Belonged to Emperor
Peter the Great
England, early 18th century
Master Louis Prévost
Silver, steel, glass;
casting, carving, gilding

The Moscow Kremlin Museums preserve artefacts of great
historical significance –
silver-cased pocket watch
belonging to Emperor Peter I.

During the reign of Peter the Great, the conditions for the formation and development of domestic science were created in Russia. The Academy of Sciences and other educational institutions were founded, and important reforms in the field of science and education were initiated. Along with the classical disciplines of science, the science of astronomy gained special importance, which was reflected in the cultural artefacts of the time. In the first quarter of the 18th century, a number of editions depicting the shape of the Earth and the composition of the sky were published in Russia, and engravings with terrestrial and celestial globes became widespread.

Peter the Great was very fond of emblems and allegories, which were popular in Europe. Thus, in 1705, the famous book "Symbols and Emblems" was published in Amsterdam by his decree. It featured hundreds of symbols and personifications with texts and was recommended for use throughout Russia, including for decorating important state festivals and for embellishing various products. It is noteworthy that this edition contains illustrations of sandglasses, sundials and mechanical ones – wall clocks and pocket watches, as well as accompanying inscriptions with interpretations of the objects.
Both symbols (signs of the planets indicating the days of the week)
and allegorical figures are used
in the clock's decoration. As well
as the time of day, the phases
of the moon, the signs of
the zodiac and the months of the year can be traced. Each of the
three segments represents
one of the seasons and is represented by the personification
of a particular season.
In addition to a very interesting set of
dials, Peter the Great's watch depicts
the seasons in the form of three male
and one female figures with recognizable attributes in their hands. The figures
are made in accordance with the
centuries-old tradition of allegorical representation of the periods of the
year, which can be traced back to
antiquity. In the 16th and 17th centuries, such embodiments are often found in engravings and pictorial compositions,
in the decoration of everyday objects
such as timepiece and furniture. The disc with the engraved images was hidden under the dial and each of the four personifications was revealed to the eyes
of the Emperor according to the season.