A watchmaker named Anne – Un horloger nommé Anne

Last updated on May 28, 2021

(Le français suit…)

Another mid-18th century Parisian horloger I will write about some day is Anne Clément (~1712-1747), whose name is inscribed on the plate and painted on the dial of a verge-fusée movement I purchased a few years ago. The watch was being sold as a “rare watch made by a female watchmaker”, which piqued my curiosity. As it turned out, the watchmaker is in fact a man, with the rather unfortunate name of Anne, which was an uncommon but occasionally occurring man’s name in France some hundreds of years ago (possibly from the name of the high priest in the New Testament, Annas).

I researched as much as I could find about Anne, who was raised in a well established horloger family of some prominence in Paris. The tragedy of his life is that he married in May 1746, having just established his new shop and storefront, and died 8 months later of some illness. So the watch that I own with his signature may be one of the very few (if not the only) surviving ones by this largely forgotten craftsman. The story I will write will also delve into his father and brothers (all horlogers), which will lead into an interesting and tragic family episode during the Revolution.

This watch was the subject of discussion in the following forum. Cette montre fut le sujet de discussion dans ce forum:


Un autre horloger Parisien du milieu du 18ième siècle qui fera l’objet d’un écrit de ma part est Anne Clément (~1712-1747), dont le nom est gravé sur la platine et peint sur le cadran d’un mouvement de montre verge-fusée que j’ai acquise il y a quelques années. La montre était décrite par le vendeur comme “une rare montre faite par une femme-horloger”, ce qui suscita ma curiosité. Il s’avéra que l’horloger était en effet un homme nommé Anne, qui était un nom pas très commun mais occasionnellement utilisé en France il y a quelques centenaires (possiblement basé sur le prêtre Anne du nouveau testament).

J’ai fait des recherches pour découvrir ce que je pouvais au sujet de Anne, qui fut élevé dans une famille horlogère bien établie et d’une certaine réputation à Paris. La tragédie de sa vie est qu’il se maria en Mai 1746, venant d’ouvrir son atelier et magasin d’horlogerie, et mourut 8 mois plus tard d’une maladie. Ainsi, la montre que je possède avec sa signature est probablement un des derniers objets (sinon le dernier) survivant de cet artisan oublié. Son histoire traitera aussi de son père et de ses frères (tous horlogers), qui mènera à un épisode intéressant et tragique de famille, durant la Révolution.

Below are photos of the balance and dial sides of the Anne Clément watch, which is likely the only one still existing from this rather short-lived maker. Disassembly and inspection of the watch revealed the components to be in excellent condition, showing little wear. The red lettering on the dial is unusual, normally black lettering is used on such watches.

Some photos of a French lantern clock made by Anne Clément and sold at auction some years ago:

Photos from French national notary archives of Anne Clément’s mariage:

Anne married Marie-Catherine Cha(s)telet on May 30, 1746. Sadly, he died in early January the next year of some illness, and an inventory after his death was drawn up by a notary on January 19, 1747. Work is ongoing to decipher and transcribe the inventory, which seems to reveal that his widow may have been pregnant at the time. She later re-married. (more to come, as time permits)

Below is a photo from the 19th century of Rue du Jour in Paris, where Anne Clément had his workshop in the mid 18th century.

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