Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dream Watches - The Masterpieces of Breguet

If you are going to dream, dream big. There is perhaps no bigger horological dream than a watch by Breguet. Every watch brand has a unique history.  The history of prestigious watch brand, Breguet, goes back to 1775.  That's when Abraham-Louis Breguet first set up shop on Quai de l'Horloge on Ile de Paris in the famed French capital city.  Just five years later, the company released their first self-winding watches.  The self-winding (or automatic) watch was just the first of many innovations that made A.L. Breguet one of history's greatest watch makers.

A Breguet Timepiece from 1785 - Photo By PHGCOM [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

According to the Breguet website, one of their first great patrons was the last French Queen, Marie-Antoinette.
A Young Marie Antoinette - Attributed to Martin van Meytens, Public domain,
via Wikimedia Commons

She went to the guillotine in 1793, but the company held on to "Number 160" a watch that a French officer had commissioned on her behalf.  The watch was intended to be the ultimate timepiece and was completed 34 years after the French revolution.  The fabled watch (below) went off to have an interesting life in the hands of various collectors and thieves! 

Breguet Number 160 - photo by Michael.vainshtein, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The company is also famous for inventing the tourbillon which is a part of the watch escapement that is intended to counter the effects of gravity on the accuracy of a timepiece.

Today, Breguet is headquartered in Switzerland as the luxury flagship of the Swatch group.  But, it continues to innovate in the world of mechanical watch making.  It is a very special company where art, engineering, and craftsmanship combine to make amazing timepieces. For example, the Breguet Marine Automatic Big Date men's watch (below) features an 18-kt gold case, an alligator strap, and a silver engine turned dial.

Breguet Marine Big Date Automatic with Gold Case

Breguet watches are unique and special watches for people with discerning tastes and far beyond average means.  Most are obviously intended for the super wealthy.  However, when it comes to Breguet watches, the focus really is on art, design, and craftsmanship.  These aren't watches that you flash to impress people.   A Breguet watch is something far more special.

A Breguet watch (circa 1830) with a portrait of Ben Franklin reading by a bust of Isaac Newton (Photo courtesy of Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Breguet timepieces are very special watches that people buy because they are impressed by a beautiful timepiece and all that goes into it. If you wear one, it is because you appreciate the history, the aesthetics, and the meticulous craftsmanship that precedes your purchase.  The Breguet buyer is more than a purchaser.  He or she is a patron of a rare and vanishing art.

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