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Around 1650, a clever Frenchman named Grollier de Sevriere invented the ultimate mystery clock, the floating turtle water clock. A few hundred years later, the Swiss-based luxury watch and jewelry company Gubelin recreated the fanciful turtle clock for the modern era. Always made in limited quantities with only the best craftsmanship and materials, the floating turtle mystery clock has always been valuable and rare.

Ours is in excellent condition. An elegant objet d'art even when you don’t know it’s a clock, it is made of solid gleaming brass and blue glazed porcelain. But the true delight is in the magic, which only works when the dish is filled with water. A very realistic little turtle floats upon the water, but though he is not attached, he hugs the rim, reaching each Roman numeral at the corresponding time of day. Can it be that this charming little turtle can tell time? Pick him up and place him somewhere else in the bowl, and he will swim back over to point his nose at the correct time, every time. Even better, he seems to have a sense of humor, as he often appears to amble casually until whirling around suddenly at the last second to pull off his party trick with aplomb. It is endlessly fun to watch.

Mystery clocks are so-called because their workings are mysterious, but we’ll let you in on the secret. An 8-day wind-up movement sits directly under the dish, outfitted with a small magnet that attracts the turtle—which has a chip of metal inside--to the tip of the hand that is pointing at the time.

This is a true collectors item. The rim of the dish is beautifully etched with Roman numerals. The underside of the original manual 8-day watch carries the Charles Hour signature, a high-end French clock company. It is also hand-inscribed with the serial number #B152201. The clock stands 3" high and the face is approx 8" in diameter. Made of polished brass and porcelain, with a plastic turtle that looks anything but. Made if France, circa 1990.

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