Those Were The Days…………….
Swiss enamel portrait miniature painter, John Graff (1836-1902) had created for the Indian princes and other dignitaries, what came to be known as “Rajah” watches that were decorated with enamel portraits of their owners taken from photographs. The intricate mechanisms were mainly produced in the Vallee de Joux area in Switzerland known for its ski slopes or in Le Locle, home of the Tissot watch.The movements were mainly produced in the Vallée de Joux or Le Locle, while cases were almost exclusively manufactured in the workshops of Ferrero, Tardy, Bonifas, Giron and Lamunière.
Most of these watches include a perpetual calendar and moon phases pocket watch, with alarm and chronograph with minute counter; and a wrist watch bracelet, featuring an open worked and engraved case, embellished with bead-set diamonds and millegrain decoration with enamel portraits
Of the half-dozen most esteemed Geneva enamel portraitists specialised in watches, John Graff (1836-1902) was highly sought after throughout India.
Here are a few of our favourites .
Patek Philippe chronograph. a gold, enamel and minute repeating watch – Swiss – circa 1920 (dia. 50 mm) featuring a painted portrait of His Highness Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (1891-1938)
This strikingly realistic pocket watch bears the effigy of the Maharaja of Porbandar (1867-1908). The miniature enamel portrait shows a depth of field and brilliance that highlights every detail of the painting. The yellow gold case is artfully engraved and chased, featuring a rim of vibrantly coloured enamelled flowers.
One more rare & fine 18K yellow gold & enamel hunting cased minute repeater chronograph watch made for the indian market in the manner of J Graff, circa 1890, the gold cuvette engraved specially made for H.H. The Maharaja Sirdar Singhyi Saheb Bahadur of Jodhpur,
Extremely rare, valuable complicated 8-day striking watch made for the Sixth Nizam of Hyderabad , Mahbub Ali Khan (reigned 1869–1911).
British rule in India was known as the Raj (“rule”). The British government had direct control over areas previously administered by the East India Company, now known as “British India,” and indirect control over the remaining territory. The British rewarded Indian rulers and local leaders by creating new princely states and expanding existing boundaries. As the largest, wealthiest, and most productive colony of Britain’s empire, India became known as “the jewel in the crown.”
Indian rulers adapted to the new British imperial regime in various ways. Incorporated into the hierarchy of empire, the British recognized them only as “princes” or “native chiefs,” rather than “kings.”
During the period of British colonial rule, India’s kings found themselves in an almost impossible position. Often viewed as exotic beings who epitomized India’s role as the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown, they were obliged to live within traditional boundaries and appear as the stereotypical “maharaja.” Yet, educated by British tutors, they were also encouraged to think along Western lines and behave as British gentlemen.
Adoption of Western modes could be seen in many aspects of their lives, from dressing habits to cars to watches and dining habits to social life and recreation. Palaces were built and furnished in a European style, often with goods ordered from Western firms that had opened branches in India to capitalize on the expanding princely market. The influence of the West was also seen in the evolution of new styles of painting and in the enthusiastic adoption of photography as a means of portrayal.
Can i have my Caviar and Champagne Please ……………………