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  • Emperor Qianlong antique fan watch finds fans of its own at Antiquorum
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • antiqueEmperorfanQianlong

Emperor Qianlong antique fan watch finds fans of its own at Antiquorum

Antiquorum's Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces sale has been and gone with nearly 400 lots going under the hammer. Some of the finest antique watches you'll ever see were offered.

The headline lot was "La Colère d'Achille", an ivory fan featuring nine five-clawed dragons set with a watch (Lot 379), which was a gift given to the Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) of the Qing Dynasty by George III of the United Kingdom.

The unique and magnificent fan was attributed to James Cox, the master of luxurious jewellery and timepieces in England.

The 20K gold, silver, ivory, enamel, diamond, ruby, emerald and agate set fan with a watch was made circa late 18 century, and was given by the Ambassador of England to the Emperor Qianlong as a gift to celebrate his 80th birthday in 1792.

The ivory fan, when open and closed, forms a total of nine five-clawed flying dragons, which embodies the supreme sovereignty of the Chinese Emperor.

A small watch made of gold and blue enamel appears at the end of the fan handle, and there is also a compartment for storage.

Qianlong ivory fan watch
Art and function together: the ivory fan watch
(Click to enlarge)

The paper leaf is painted with a scene adapted from a painting of a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Trojan War. The fan was sold to Lord Sandberg at 250,000CHF (equivalent today to $271,000) in the Antiquorum October 1984 Geneva auction.

This time it was being offered for auction in Hong Kong with an estimate of HK$1.1m-1.5m (US$140,000-190,000), but perhaps unsurprisingly it drew a lot of interest and heavy bidding, reflecting a continuing fascination with Qianlong and an increasing interest in the region for unique and fascinating timepieces.

When the dust cleared, it had sold for a stunning HK$6.02m (US$770,000).

It is extraordinary the variety that can be found in timepiece designs. We talked on our blog about mystery clocks (which seem to work without a mechanism). The opposite of these are skeletonised watches where the mechanism is always visible.

Collectors interested in owning a fine timepiece but not having access to six figure sums will want to take a look at this Longines Olympic series men's watch.

  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • antiqueEmperorfanQianlong