A rare enamel pocket of Leo Juvet Fleurier pocket watch for the Chinese market. Dial and watch cases numbered 104480 Case in silver with female portraits in enamel. Ø 46 mm. Contemporary case, possibly original
Dimensions: O. 46 mm. (4.6 cm.) Condition: Very good condition.
Watches for the Chinese Market
Imperial China was at its height in the 18th century. Not only the wealthy imperial couple but prosperous merchants and civil servants too were affluent enough to afford high-priced luxury goods. They often bought watches, either to extend their own collections or to pay tribute to the emperor by presenting him with valuable gifts.
Europe recognized the burgeoning financial power in the Chinese society and, in addition to exporting the high value Swiss timepieces, the companies began to open their own branches in China. To ensure that contemporary tastes were met and cultural demands of the time satisfied, the preferences of the “new” clientele were carefully investigated. The lavishly decorated watch cases always stood out for their distinctive ornamentation. Shapes, colours and motifs were taken from nature; quality and design were second to none. Flower arrangements were immensely popular because they offered a myriad of possibilities for shape and colour.
Edouard & Léo Juvet à Fleurier
The Juvet family was one of the important Swiss horological families which produced pieces for the Chinese market. Edouard Juvet (1820-1883) opened his workshop in Buttes in 1842 and moved to Fleurier in 1844. In 1856 Edouard started making watches for the Chinese market; both his sons Ami-Louis and Léo eventually went to China to work in the family firm there. After Ami-Louis had died there, Léo (1848-1891) travelled to China to take his place. Only the Bovets rivalled the Juvets in Shanghai – however, the two families always maintained friendly relations. The Juvets flourished with branches in Beijing and Tianjin, to the extent that in 1872 Léo wrote: “Our watches sell like salt”. Edouard Juvet registered a trademark in Chinese characters in 1873, to be used on the company’s products. In November 1875 he granted his son Léo power of attorney; after Edouard’s death in February 1883, Léo succeeded him as head of the firm.
The pocket watches by Juvet with their finely handcrafted and unique artistic style were welcomed by the royal family members of the Qing Dynasty. Juvet has since become the emperor’s watch brand. Owning a Juvet pocket watch is a symbol of nobility.