Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Precious Time: A Watch Case and Chatelaine from George III, 1785

Watch Case
Presented by
George III,
The Royal

King George III enjoyed giving gifts to people. Next to presentation boxes, he most frequently gifted magnificent watches to close friends and family members. This beautiful watch case and chatelaine was a gift from George III from about 1785. A magnificent work in gold, enamel and diamonds, the piece was likely given as a gift to his godson, James George, Third Earl of Courtown. Another theory is that the watch and chatelaine were a gift to the parents of James George who were very close to the King and lived in Windsor Castle.

Regardless of to whom this beautiful object was given, it was later purchased from the family by King George V and Queen Mary so that it could be preserved in the Royal Collection. The watch case is layered in blue enamel and set with a crowned cipher of George III, set in diamonds. This diamond and enamel work matches the details on the chatelaine. A chatelaine is a rather elaborate belt-hook from which a series of chains hang. The chains were meant to hold commonly used household items such as watches, scissors, keys, seals, etc. Curiously, chatelaines were almost exclusively worn by women, so why George III bestowed so many to male friends is quite mysterious. Nevertheless, when you receive a gift from the King, it’s always a good idea to accept it—especially when it’s as lovely as this.

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