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Old 04-28-2020, 03:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Geneva and "Moon Movement Watches" in 17th Century

Fashion is an eternal renewal, it is commonly said. It is the same for the watch as the dress. The latest innovations in men's wristwatches are calendar watches with moon phases.

That the indication of the phases of the moon is of great use these days, we can doubt it, but it is a certain thing, it is that this small accessory gently decorates the dial and gives it something mysterious.
Let's see from what era we built "moon movement" watches, as they were called in the 17th century.

These watches were a regular continuation of astronomical clocks and spheres, which were made both in Germany and in France in the 16th century.
Julien Coudray, clockmaker to Louis XII and François 1er, resident of Blois (died around 1530), built for the first, in 1504, a sphere. These spheres were astronomical clocks on which, by means of an ingenious mechanism, we followed the march of the stars and their passage to the various signs of the zodiac.
There were many table clocks in the 16th century bearing astronomical indications.

As for watches, we do not know of any that could be located in the 16th century. In his admirable work "Les Horlogers Blésois", Father E. Develle presents only an astronomical watch by Christophe Piron, who was already established in Blois in 1597 and died in 1630.

In their book "Les Horlogers Lyonnais de 1550 à 1650", MM. Eugène Vial and Claudius Côte cite three astronomical watches made in Lyon, among the works preserved.
One is by Louis Arthaud (1612-1662), it is round, in a silver box; the dial bears the phases of the moon in its upper part. The second is by Pierre Combret (... 1596-1622), the box is also in silver, finely chiseled; the phases of the moon are visible by a "light" in the center of the dial. The third is by Jean Vallier (... 1596-1649); the dial is divided into four parts, the phases of the moon also appear in a "light".
It's not much, and it seems, from the notarial deeds that I found in the minutes of the notaries in the state archives,

The main manufacturer of these "moon movement watches" seems to be Anthoine Arlaud, a bourgeois citizen of Geneva in 1617, son of Victor, originally from Maringue in Auvergne.
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