The present clock displays the initials G. R. below the dial and also on the top of the carrying case. It is tempting to suggest that they refer to King George I of Greece or even to the British monarch George V (1865-1936) - George Rex.
Derek Roberts, "Carriage and Other Travelling Clocks", 1993, pp. 213-4, pls. 13-8 - 13-10, illustrating three different carriage clocks by Charles Oudin including one (pl. 13-9, a, b & C) which is marked on the top with a monogram with what appears to be the letters E I V below a crown.
An extremely fine late nineteenth century French petite silvered and brass carriage clock of eight day duration by Charles Oudin à Paris, signed within the chapter ring Chles Oudin 52, Palais Royal, (Paris). The dial with a gilt mask enclosing outer indications for the minutes and circular silvered rings with black painted Arabic hour numerals, with a pair of blued steel hands and a finely chased foliate gilt centre. The twin barrel movement time piece only, with lever escapement and with the going and striking on a gong. The silvered and brass case with glazed sides, engraved with the initials G. R. below the dial and flanked by fluted pilasters at the four corners, the slightly domed top cast with a foliate and berried border below a glazed viewing aperture and a foliate and berried carrying handle, the whole on a stepped base cast with a foliate and berried border, accompanied by its original red leather travelling case with glazed frontispiece and stamped on the top with the initials G. R.
Paris, date circa 1880-90
Height with handle up: 14 cm, width 7 cm, depth 6 cm.
Given its petite size and delicate design, this beautiful carriage clock was almost certainly made for a lady; moreover it was made for one of distinction since her initials G. R. are engraved below the dial as well as on the top of the travelling case. It was made by the renowned Parisian firm of Charles Oudin based at 52 Palais Royal, which by the late nineteenth century was one of France's largest clockmaking establishments and was being run by Paulin Amédée Charpentier (1823-94). The firm of Charles Oudin is familiar among admirers of fine horology, whose name is synonymous with excellence. The Oudin name is also often linked to that of the renowned clockmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) since at least three members of this remarkable family made important contributions to Breguet's oeuvre, especially during the period that Breguet spent in Switzerland during the Reign of Terror, from 1793 to 1795. Later some of the Oudins also helped him restore his workshop back to working order when he had returned to Paris.
The history of the Oudin dynasty began with Jean-Baptiste Oudin, a clockmaker established at Sedan in the Ardennes, a prosperous city in eastern France, where he married Marie-Anne Arnould. She was probably the sister of Joseph Arnould (1723-1798), a celebrated clockmaker from Nancy and member of the Académie Stanislas. Their son Charles Oudin, known as Oudin père (1743-1803) worked as a clock and watchmaker in the place de la Halle in Sedan, where he remained his entire career. Oudin père was one of the family who worked for Breguet; he also became a member of the Sedan City Council and was elected Mayor of Sedan. Four of his sons by his wife Claudette née Pin et Vin followed his trade, notably Jean-Baptiste Oudin (1766-1799), Jean-Baptiste-Charles-François (b. 1775), Pierre-François and Joseph-Jacques, known as Joseph Oudin (b.1773-c.1842), who became an excellent watchmaker and was another family member closely linked to Breguet.
Charles Oudin père had a brother named Nicolas, about whom little is known. However, it was Nicolas's son by his wife Margueritte née Magisson who was to become the best-known member of the family with a long and illustrious career. He was Jean-Charles-François, known as Charles Oudin or Oudin Sedan (1768-1840), who was born in Clermont (Meuse). Like his cousin Joseph he was again closely associated with Breguet. In the Breguet livres d'atelier he was called 'Oudin Sedan' and as one of Breguet's most brilliant pupils he often signed his work 'Charles Oudin, Elève de Breguet'. When Breguet fled to Switzerland during the French Revolution, Charles Oudin became the right-hand man of Breguet's assistant Boulanger, who ran the workshop in his master's absence. In fact, Charles Oudin performed his duties so well that he won Breguet's unqualified respect. Later Oudin was directly involved in the design and manufacture of a number of ingenious types of clocks and watches including subscription watches and those with perpetual calendars; in particular he developed a new system for displaying the equation of time on his subscription watches, in which they could indicate both solar and mean time simultaneously.
In 1797, Charles Oudin (Oudin Sedan) married Anne Antoinette Virginie Le Roy, daughter of the clockmaker Basile Le Roy (1731-1804) and sister of Basile (also known as Bazile)-Charles Le Roy (1765-1828), who founded the renowned Parisian clockmaking firm of Leroy based at no 88 Palais Royal (now Palais Egalité). In March 1801, Charles Oudin also rented a property at Palais Royal, at Galerie de Pierre, no 65. Soon after this his fame was launched when in 1805 he made a 'montre à répétition au tact' for the Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais. The following year he received an honourable mention when he exhibited a self-winding watch and clock with moon phase and calendar month indications at the fourth Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie Française; this was the first of many of his pieces by Charles Oudin to receive acclaim at a public exhibition. 1806 also saw Charles Oudin making a winding watch for the comte de Villafranca. In about 1809 he opened a new shop at no 52 Palais Royal, the same address as appears on the present clock and where one can still see a mosaic on the pavement with the firm's name and title of Horloger de la Marine Française.
Despite promising beginnings Charles Oudin's cousin Joseph Oudin, who had worked at rue Vivienne and later at Feydeau, declared bankruptcy and thus shortly after 1812 he left France for America and by 1818 was in New Orleans.
Meanwhile Charles Oudin continued his brilliant career up until 1836 when he handed over the business to his son Charles-Raymond Oudin. Charles Oudin then retired to rue de Richelieu, no. 34, where he died in 1840. That same year the firm of Charles Oudin gave the English monarch Queen Victoria a miniature pendant watch known as the 'sixpence'.
Charles-Raymond Oudin appears to have devoted much of his time managing his father's financial legacy and property rather than the clockmaking side of the business. Thus in about 1854 he either became an associate or sold the business to Paulin Amédée Charpentier, a young and able clockmaker who had worked with him since 1849 (the same year he had also married Esther Denise Monget).
Charpentier, who was born on April 1st 1823 in Paris and also died there nearly seventy one years later was a horologer and inventor who took out a number of patents. He also rapidly expanded the business, opening up new premises at 225, Regent Street in London's West End in 1855. Little by little the firm of Charles Oudin had become one of the largest French watchmaking houses, the equal of Breguet and Leroy with an important and expanding international list of clients. Among them was Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920), which earned the business the title 'Horloger de S.M. l'Impératrice'. The firm then opened up a branch in New York as well as a new Parisian shop at 30 rue de Montpensier, Palais Royal and was also represented in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Madrid and Geneva.
As exhibitors at the International Exhibitions in London 1862 and then Paris in 1867 the firm was awarded a medal of excellence in 1862 and a bronze medal in 1867. The firm was not only appreciated by the jurors and critics, but also by its illustrious clientele who included a number of foreign royal and imperial houses, counting among them those from Russia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Egypt as well as Eugenio Emanuele de Savoie-Carignan (1816-1888), the comte de Villafranca, Henri d'Artois (1820-1883), Alexandre d'Adhémar comte de Lantagnac (1834-1878) as well as the Italian tenor Enrico Tamberlick (1820-1889).
To accompany the 1862 and 1867 exhibitions the firm published detailed catalogues of their work, in which they described themselves as Oudin-Charpentier. The earlier one listed forty-eight pieces and the second contained eighty, of which a number were carriage clocks. The catalogues also provide a further insight into the firm's standing noting in the 1862 publication that it was "… principal clockmaker to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, to the Pope, to Their Majesties the Queen and King of Spain and to the Imperial Navy". Interestingly it included a small carriage clock and a chronometer made for the King of Spain as well as a carriage clock marked with the monogram of Napoleon III.
Individual monograms on carriage clocks were not at all common but more than any other firm, Charles Oudin made this a speciality, reserved for their more important customers. Other of their carriage clocks bearing the monogram of various distinguished clientele include one marked with the initials 'G I'. These refer to Prince William of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg; 1845-1913) who was originally a Danish prince but then reigned as King George I of Greece from 1863 until his death. The present clock displays the initials G. R. below the dial and also on the top of the carrying case. It is tempting to suggest that they refer to King George I of Greece or even to the British monarch George V (1865-1936) - George Rex. However, there is no crown here nor did the latter ascend the English throne until 1910 following the death of his father Edward VII. Since the initials below the dial and on the carrying case are contemporary with the clock's creation, it is far more likely that they belong to the original owner who, as suggested previously, was a lady of distinction.
When in 1867 Raymond Charles Oudin died without issue at his Paris home in rue de Laval, he left his fortune to his nieces and nephews, the eldest of whom received two-thirds amounting to over 100,000 francs - such was the success of the business. The business continued to prosper, remaining at Palais Royal until 1899, when like a number of other clockmakers and jewellers they left their premises and moved to avenue de l'Opéra. The management of the business was also transferred to Monsieur E. Legrand at about this time or possibly shortly before to coincide with the death of Charpentier in 1894. About a century later the firm of Charles Oudin was revived and now installed at Place Vendôme, Paris, it tends to specialise in offering high quality wristwatches for ladies.