The majesty of the Chinese- Market Watch – Ian White


NAWCC Member
Nov 6, 2019
I think other people have mentioned it briefly but I thought I would just give a big recommendation to readers on this forum for this book published in the last year or so by the AHS.

The majesty of the Chinese- Market Watch – The Life and Collection of Gustave Loup of Tientsin and Geneva Watch Dealer and Collector 1876 to 1961

by Ian White

This is my tribute / mini review / poor attempt at summary / points of note

Gustave Loup was a madcap dealer / collector of Swiss origin who managed to buy many pocket watches from the Golden Age of La Montre Chinoise 1790 – 1860 and other items from impoverished previously extremely wealthy Chinese merchants / royal entourage after the boxer rebellion in China in 1899 - 1901.

He was the son of Pierre Loup – watch traders and was born in Tientsin. He was a friend and co -conspirator of Alfred Chapuis who of course wrote the pre – eminent book on this area – La Montre Chinoise

Amongst very many interesting points I gathered from the book that to me seemed particularly relevant here on this forum for those trying to help identify pocket watches were the following points.

- The Chinese did not think that the name of a mere “artisan” should deface the front of a pocket watch hence often why the dials and movements were blank. Even one of the pre-eminent makers in this area - Piguet & Meylan only seemed to put a case maker’s mark on the inside of their watches. This may explain why so many English looking watches in Swiss and Enamel cases were unmarked.

- Chinese “crab tooth” Duplex movement was very popular as it – “gives the appearance of beating exact seconds”

- Likewise the Chinese loved second hands

- Again they were enchanted by musical watches, repeater movements, automata and similar

- With no routes to the Sea of course the trade by the Swiss watchmakers/ dealers / jewellers was all via London with naval routes to China and sophisticated banking / foreign exchange facilities etc.

“….an early ambition of the Swiss watch trade was to copy English watches. By the beginning of the nineteenth century such limitation was not necessary… The 19th-century trade remains an aspect of Anglo Swiss trade that requires further research. “

- The watches were mainly for show and decoration and not actually often used as timepieces!! So perhaps it did not matter they do not use Chinese numerals which of course contrast with the Turkish market watches in Arabic script.

- In Chinese tradition the presentation of objects in pairs was customary as indicating harmony.


1. The Life of Gustave Loup

2. Chinese European relations 1835 – 1950

3. Collectors who bought from Loup

As his collection was dispersed in the 1930s following bankruptcy the following purchased from him. It reads like a roll call of the greatest richest collectors of the early mid twentieth century.

Maurice & Edouard Sandoz – sons of the founder of the brand which later became Cyma I think

Hans Wildorf

Sir David Salomons – the greatest Breguet collector of course

King Farouk – alleged “puppet” of the British & French who wanted to continue control the Suez Canal route to the Saudi Oil Wealth and India. He was deposed by Nasser who chose to sell the collection at Sotheby’s London in 1954. Just my surmise but with more in the bank he was then able to buy more guns/ tanks and throw out the British and French in 1956!

Francisco Perez de Leaguer Feliu - a Spanish private collector who fled to Italy after the start of the Spanish Civil war in 1936

Habib Edib Toerehan – Turkish private collector – banker

Stern Family – Patel Philippe

Others including Edouard Gelis and Maurice Robert

4. The Geneva Fabrique – Watch Case Makers to Enamel Painters by Julia Clarke

Swiss “bijoutiers” – a word that does not translate easily she explains

“but comprises at once a goldsmith, a jeweller, small worker sometimes and enameller” – a “maker of precious objects”

assembled made these pieces in near Geneva -

5. The Loup Collection of Watches – Ian white can trace only 82 pieces from the 200 or so in the collection at its height

He has carefully traced the history of the paintings drawings copied by the enamellers. Most of the enamelled pieces seemed to be copied inspired by popular artistic works / old testament religious themes.

Beautiful flowers were popular. Amazing engraved foliate movements.

5. The Loup Collection – Bijouterie

Snuff boxes, automata

Jacquet Droz & Leschot

“some of the most imaginative richly decorated and technically complicated objets vertu ever created.”

7. The Loup Collection of Clocks

8. Commentary


1. A journey from Tientsin to Peking

2. Report from Swedish ambassador to Tokyo

3. An interview with Gustave Loup

4. The manufacture and application of half pearls

5. Items brought by Maurice Sandoz from Gustave Loup

6. Makers cited in the Loup collection

For many of us I expect a very interesting list of watchmakers in the Loup collection that made for the Chinese

English - William Anthony, Barraud, James Cox, John Ilbery, William Ilbery, Lowe, Morisset and Lukin, John Rich, Rundell and Bridge

Swiss – Aubert, Bautte and Moynier, Bovet, Courvoisier Freres, Dubois, Duchenne, Frisard, Garrand, Humbert & Gorlay, Jacquet Droz, Pierre Morand, Perrin Freres, Piguet & Meylan, Robert and Courvoisier, Frere Rochat, Veigneur freres

Vrard – the house started by the father of Gustave Loup

The scholarship, pictures and production are of top quality and very interesting.

There is plenty of original source material and loads of pictures of absolutely magnificently beautiful pocket watches.

Pictures via musee d'art et d'histoire Ville de Geneve

Montre de poche, dite chinoise | Musées d'art et d'histoire de Genève

bovet 1.jpeg bovet2.jpeg

Forum statistics

Latest member
Encyclopedia Pages
Total wiki contributions
Last edit
E. Howard & Co. by Clint Geller