early 20th century
iron, gold damascene and glass
watch (dia) 3.5 cm, chain 12.3 cm
The case has its back worked in gold relief. A shield in its centre contains the elaborate superimposed monogram ‘BE’ or ‘EB’. Composed around this are doves, foliage, and flowers in two colours of gold. The watch-face and movement are imported from Switzerland.
Watch-cases were commonly produced and damascened in Eibar, and a variety of these are illustrated in price lists of the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Swiss patterns for watch-cases, used in Eibar as design sources in the decoration of a variety of objects since the nineteenth century, were employed in the design of watch-cases as well when these began to be produced commercially sometime around 1910-15. The most appreciated designer continued to be Desprez of Geneva, whose patterns dominate the illustrated lists of watch-cases available from the damascening houses.
None of the design albums illustrates ornament for the bezel, which was therefore left to the imagination of the damascener. On this watch the bezel displays a series of anthemia containing and surrounded by concave circular punchmarks. Gold beading decorates the circumference of the case.
While this watch is unmarked, others bore not only the name of the Swiss manufacturer on their face but also that of the Eibar distributor. A watch very similar to the present one (in the possession of Dr N.D. Khalili) has the name ‘Omega’ on its face together with the name of the firm of León Eguiazu of Eibar, who established his workshop in San Sebastián.
The fob now associated with this watch may not have been original to it. It is of moderate quality and exemplifies a type of item produced in great quantities, many being intended for export. It comes from a later period, the 1920s or 1930s, when Hispano-Arab themes became popular.
J. D. Lavin (ed.), The Art and Tradition of the Zuloagas: Spanish Damascene from the Khalili Collection, Oxford 1997, cat. 52, p. 162.