Swiss-made by "Bautte". 42 mm [12 Size], 15 Jewels, "Fine Silver" open-face case, key wind and set. Ca. early - mid 1800's.
I picked this little gem up at a local antique shop for $85 [the original asking price was $110]. I bought it with an eye to reselling it on eBay for maybe $125-150, but decided to keep it instead. The watch is marked "Bautte GENEVE" on the dust cover. According to my watch book, there was a watchmaker named Jean-Francois Bautte who worked in Geneva from 1800-1835. If this were the same Bautte, then this would be a very old watch! Given the fact that the movement is a typical Swiss ebauche of the type seen more often during the mid to late 1800's, however, I'm going to have to assume that this isn't the same Bautte. It could be a copy, or made by a family member, or it could simply have been made by a different Bautte entirely.
The watch is really attractive. The gold hands have little pieces of highly polished steel embedded in them which reflect the light like small diamonds, and the case has a wonderful pattern engraved on the back. The watch case was rather blackened from years of oxidation, but when I applied a little polish it cleaned right up. Not only did it clean right up, I also discovered that the case and the bezel have copper accents all around, which give the watch a lovely two-tone effect. All in all it's a great little watch, and I think I'll hold onto it for now....
I have been informed that my little watch is "nothing less than an early Girard Perregaux pocket watch (ca. 1855)." Which is to say that it was made by the company that eventually became the world famous watch manufacturer Girard Perregaux. Here is the history of Girard Perregaux that Mr. Roland Ranfft was kind enough to provide me:
1791: Founded by J.D. Moulinier (sometimes spelled Moulinie),
1793: Moulinier & Bautte, partnership of J.F. Bautte and Moulinier,
1804: Moulinier-Bautte & Cie, partnership of Bautte, Moulinier, and J.G. Moynier,
1808: Moulinier-Bautte & Moynier, just new company name,
1826: Bautte & Moynier, partnership of Bautte and Moynier,
1831: J.F. Bautte, alone,
1837: J.F. Bautte & Cie, partnership of son J.F. Bautte II and J.S. Rossel,
1855: Rossel-Bautte & Cie, partnership of above plus J.Rossel,
1860: Rossel & Fils, partnership of J.S. Rossel and son J. Rossel,
1897: Bought by Filipe Hecht, and later his son Jean Hecht.
1906: Bought by Girard Perregaux.
This is why Girard Perregaux feels they are the successor of Bautte & Moulinier and claim a birth year of 1791, although they actually existed alone since 1845.
Mr. Ranfft then goes on to say that, as my watch looks "young" but the company didn't sign "Bautte" after 1855, my watch would be about from that time.
I have no idea whether any of this makes the watch more valuable or not, but it certainly makes it a whole lot more interesting to me. And yes, I'm glad I decided to hold onto it after all!
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