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Cylinder watch and chatelaine

Chatelaines, or ‘equipages’ in eighteenth-century parlance, were used to attach watches and seals or small nécessaires to a lady’s waist. This exquisite example in the Rococo style comprises a watch with winding key, three quartz seals (with coat-of-arms and heads of ancient philosophers) and a gold heart-shaped locket containing woven hair beneath a rock crystal cover with ‘toi seul me fixe’ (‘I am constant to you alone’) on an enamelled ribbon. The watch’s gold repousse outer case is decorated with Venus presenting arms to her son Aeneas, an episode from Virgil’s Aeneid.

This luxury timepiece was made by three of mid-eighteenth century London’s most outstanding craftsmen: William Webster (movement), Stephen Goujon (case-maker) and George Michael Moser (gold-chaser, described upon his death in 1783 by Sir Joshua Reynolds as England’s best goldsmith).
According to Miss Whitehurst, who donated the watch and chatelaine to the Museum in 1836, they were ‘presented to my mother on her marriage in 1755 [sic]’.