case which contains Perigal’s watch was made about 1760
when rich, asymmetrical ornament, incorporating plants and scrolls,
was in fashion. This type of design, known as “Rococo”
from its similarity to irregular rock formations, was imported
to England from France in the early eighteenth century. Like many
eighteeth-century watches, this watch is “pair-cased”.
The watch is enclosed within an inner case to protect the mechanism
and an outer case to protect the inner case. In the mid-eighteenth
century, the outer cases were often elaborately decorated. By
comparison with other cases from the period, the decoration of
this case is relatively restrained. The gold scrolling border
does not distract from the effect of the panel of reddish-brown
which is a variety of quartz incorporating bands and whorls of
colour, was valued by craftsmen in the eighteenth-century for
its decorative effects. It went ideally with Rococo design and
was imitated in cheaper contemporary ceramics known as “agate
ware”. There is one piece on display in the museum: an agate
cat, which can be found in the case on the stairs leading down
to Gallery 9 (European Porcelain).
white enamelled dial on this watch is particularly plain and is
probably a replacement, inserted in about 1780 when the Rococo
had gone out of fashion.