Special Sub-Topic: Marie Antoinette's Watch
|Who ordered the watch known as the "Marie Antoinette"?|
A member of the queen's guard. Count Hans Axel Von Fersen was born in 1755 in Stockholm, and died in 1820 in that same city. A handsome and well-educated man, he took part in some of the most exciting events of his day. In 1779 he joined the French military. When General Rochambeau traveled to America to assist General George Washington, Von Fersen accompanied him as a translator. After returning to France von Fersen joined the Queen's Guard, and became Marie Antoinette's lover. It was during this period that he ordered the famous time-piece. Von Fersen proved to be a real friend to the royal family. He ordered the carriage used in their unsuccessful attempt to escape from Paris, and even served as their coachman. (The Wikipedia was the source for this information.)
|Which famous clockmaker made the watch?|
Abraham-Louis Breguet. Abraham-Louis Breguet was born in 1747 in Switzerland. At the age of fifteen he came to France, where he was apprenticed to a clockmaker. Breguet is considered one of the leading clockmakers of all time. He is responsible for many technological inventions, such as the perpetual clock, and anti-shock devices. He is also considered an artist, and one of the first to make a clock a thing of beauty. (The Wikipedia was the source for this answer.)
|The Marie Antoinette watch was considered the ultimate in technology in its day, and could perform twenty-two different functions. Which of these was NOT a function of the Marie Antoinette watch?|
A currency converter. In addition to Breguet's famous parachute anti-shock device, the Marie Antoinette watch included features like a thermometer, and a minute repeater. This is a bell or chime that strikes on the hour, or parts thereof, with a separate tone for each part of the hour. (The information here came from a 2007 article by Florence Noel in the journal "Haute Horlogerie.")
|When was Marie Antoinette actually presented with the famous watch?|
She was executed before the watch was finished. Count Von Fersen ordered the watch from Breguet in 1783. Ten years later Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It wasn't until 1827, a full forty-four years after the order was placed, that Breguet completed his masterpiece. Needless to say, the French queen never saw the gift ordered by her lover.
|Which of the following is the best description of the Marie Antoinette watch?|
A yellow gold pocket watch with a rock crystal dial and visible movement. The Marie Antoinette watch is more than a technological wonder; it is a stunning piece of artwork. In fact, it is known as the "Mona Lisa" of watches!
|Following the death of Marie Antoinette, the watch eventually found its way into a museum in a world capital. Which of these museum became the proud owner of this famous time-piece?|
The Museum for Islamic Art, Jerusalem, Israel. Though it might seem surprising, the Marie Antoinette clock was housed in the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art, located near the Jerusalem Theatre in Israel's capital city. Vera Bryce Salomons created the museum, which opened its doors in 1974. It is dedicated to Islamic scholar Professor Arie Mayer, and houses an extensive collection of painting, carpets, and other objects, gathered from several continents and spanning many centuries. In addition, the museum houses the clock collection which belonged to Salomon's father, David. There are 108 pieces in this exhibit, including many by that master clockmaker, Breguet.(Information for this question comes from the L.A. Mayer Museum web site.)
|Marie Antoinette's beautiful watch was stolen from the museum in which it was exhibited. How were the thieves able to take this valuable piece?|
They broke into the museum by removing bars from a back window. In 1983, forty clocks and watches were stolen from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art. Apparently, the thief or thieves took advantage of the empty street during the Jewish Sabbath. They parked a van in front of a window to prevent passers-by from seeing them, and by removing some bars from the window were able to enter the museum and make off with some of the most beautiful and valuable clocks in the world.
|A best-selling mystery features the theft of the Marie Antoinette clock as a major theme. What novel is this, and who is the author?|
"The Grand Complication" by Allen Kurtzweil. Allen Kurtzweil's 2001 mystery novel features a librarian, one Alexander Short, who is approached by an eccentric millionaire, James Jesson III, to catalogue his collection of precious objects. Kurtzweil spent five years researching this novel, and traveled extensively as well. While some reviewers admire Kurtzweil's erudition and attention to detail, others found the novel dull and lacking in real direction. By the way, a "grande complication" is a watchmaker's term for a watch that contains at least three specific features. Needless to say, the Marie Antoinette watch contains all of these, and more. (Information for this question came from the web site, "The Complete Review.")
|What was the reaction of the clockmakers' firm that originally made the Marie Antoinette clock when they learned that the priceless item had been stolen?|
They made a reproduction. Nicolas Kayek, who has held the post of CEO of Breguet since 1999, was extremely distressed by the theft of the Marie Antoinette watch. Rather than offering a reward for its recovery, Hayek decided to have the Breguet workshops produce a replica of the famed watch, basing their work on available pictures and descriptions, After beginning the work on the replica, Hayek learned that an oak tree on the grounds of Versailles, known as Marie Antoinette's particular favorite, was dying. He made arrangements to purchase part of the tree in order to make a box in which to display the replica, which was intended for the Breguet museum in the Place de la Vendome in Paris.
(This information came from a 111/11/07 article in the "Amateur Economist?")
|After the Marie Antoinette clock was recovered, a full twenty years after it was stolen, the museum decided it was too precious to be exhibited. It is now kept in a vault in an unknown bank, in an unknown city.|
F. The Marie Antoinette watch, as well as other articles stolen from the Jerusalem museum, were recovered in 2007. Although the exact details of their recovery have never been fully revealed, it seems that the thief was never able to dispose of the time-pieces, since they were so well known, and the theft had been so well publicized. After the thief's death, his widow apparently made contact with the museum. Whether or not the museum paid some sort of "ransom" is not at all clear. Nevertheless, the Marie Antoinette watch as well as the other magnificent time-pieces are on display in the L. A. Mayer Museum, where they can be enjoyed by local visitors and tourists alike, in an exhibit which is ironically entitled "stolen time". But when you visit, you will notice a very alert guard in the clock exhibit!
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