Antiquorum to Auction a Henri Grandjean & Cie Grand Complication Pocket Watch

During the Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces Geneva auction on 05th and 06th November 2022, Antiquorum is offering a Henri Grandjean & Cie Grand Complication Pocket Watch.

Dating back to 1880, this ultra-complicated mechanical pocket watch was made by Henri Grandjean (1803-1879), founder of the Neuchâtel Observatory.

Henri Grandjean & Cie Grand Complication Pocket Watch

This gold pocket watch with eight complications rarely combined in a single piece is one of the most complex timepieces ever made by Henri Grandjean. This chronometric treasure will be auctioned at the Antiquorum Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces Sale at the Beau Rivage in Geneva on 6 November 2022.
Henri Grandjean & Cie Grand Complication Pocket Watch

This timepiece incorporates eight watchmaking complications: retrograde perpetual calendar (fly-back), chronograph, moon phases, quarter repetition by two hammers on two gongs and dual time zone.

Henri Grandjean & Cie Grand Complication Pocket Watch

Made for the Spanish or South American market, it features an 18K Multi-coloured gold (yellow, pink, green and white) hunting-case with a diameter of 61.5 mm. The case itself is comprised of 27 parts. This large, round-shaped pocket watch comes with keyless-winding system.

Henri Grandjean & Cie Grand Complication Pocket Watch

Born in Le Locle on 14th December 1803, Henri Grandjean was an extraordinary Watchmaker. He founded the prestigious Neuchâtel Observatory. He was also the architect of the reference point for precision in Le Locle (Cité de la Précision) thanks to the cable he had laid between the Observatory and the watchmaking school in Le Locle, which he also had built.

Finally, among other architectural and sectorial footprints that he has left, we owe him the building of the Quartier de l’An-Neuf (today the Quartier du Progrès), which in 2009 enabled Le Locle to join the UNESCO application for the registration of the Urbanisme Horloger as a world heritage property in La Chaux-de- Fonds.

At the time, when this great chronometer-maker delivered his models to the markets of the British Empire, including India, he would put “Henry” on the dials. Similarly, he would sometimes sign “Enrique” for his watches delivered to South American markets.

Henri Grandjean
Henri Grandjean

It is estimated that between 150 and 200 timepieces were manufactured by Henri Grandjean during his lifetime. Some of these are to be discovered in the main watchmaking museums. As in Le Locle, where the Château des Monts even has a “Henri Grandjean” archive of historical documents.

As an innovative spirit, Henri Grandjean – also written GrandJean – experimented with various procedures: screw or mass balances, escapements with pivoted or spring detents, circular or spherical balance springs. Although none of these systems seemed better than another, he insisted on the terminal curves of the balance spring, as calculated by the mathematician Edouard Phillips (1821-1889).

Before Nobel Prize-winning physicist Charles-Edouard Guillaume (1861-1938), he planned to use a nickel alloy for the balance springs. Working on different calibres, Henri Grandjean showed that the dimension of a movement does not determine its precision.

While his favourite calibre is a 56 lignes with two plates, with a power reserve of fifty-six hours, he also made small marine watches, up to 26 lignes. He is known for his sense of technical simplification and for the indisputably high level of his finishings.

Technical details

Lot name: Henri Grandjean, 8 complications pocket watch
Lot number: 256
Antiquorum Geneva’s Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces Auction, 05 & 06 November 2022

Functions and complications
Quarter-repeater by two hammers on two steel gongs activated by the slide located on the case-band at 6 o’clock.
1/5 second chronograph activated by the single rectangular pushpiece located on the edge of the bezel at 6 o’clock), with outer ring.
Instantaneous perpetual calendar
Retrograde (fly-back) date of the month (half-circle graduation at 12 o’clock with index
Retrograde (fly-back) date of the month, half-circle graduation at 12 o’clock with index
Month of the year, subsidiary dial at 4 o’clock; indications given in Spanish
Age and phases of the moon, subsidiary dial, graduated from 0 to 29½, and aperture at 12 o’clock
Hours and minutes of a second time zone, concentric yellow gold hands, time-setting by push-pin on the right side of the pendant; the repeater mechanism is indexed to this set of hands.

Caliber 20”’ (lignes)
20’’’ movement, nickel-plated, “fausses côtes” decoration, 37 jewels, going barrel, wolf-teeth winding wheels, gold train of wheels, straight-line equilibrated lever escapement, cut bimetallic compensated balance, blued steel hairspring with terminal curve, polished steel index-regulator; repeater work on the main plate, under the dial; chronograph work on the top plate.

White colour enamel dial, with suspended “Breguet” numerals; blued steel “Spade” hands (time-setting by push-pin on the left side of the pendant); inner ring with radial
Roman numerals for the dual-time

Four-coloured case
Five body massive “bassine et filets, carrure ronde” case, profusely chased and engraved overall with elaborate foliage; cover and case-back with four colour highrelief decoration of iris flowers cartouche, scrolls and a mask; engraved and guilloché (engine-turned) gold cuvette (dome); additional glazed cuvette to protect the movement.

CHF50,000 – CHF100,000

For more historical information about Henri Grandjean, please visit the website of L’Association Henri Grandjean Valeurs & Héritage (The Henri Grandjean Values & Heritage Association).