Breguet (watch)

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Breguet SA
Type Member of the Swatch Group
Industry Watch manufacturing
Founded 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet
Headquarters Vallée de Joux, Switzerland
Key people Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder
Parent The Swatch Group
Website breguet.ch
A Breguet squelette watch 2933 with tourbillon (2007)
Breguet No. 627 watch (2007)

Breguet is a Swiss manufacturer of luxury watches, founded by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris in 1775. Currently part of The Swatch Group, its timepieces are now (since 1976) produced in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland. It is one of the oldest surviving watch-making establishments and is the pioneer of numerous watch-making technologies, the most notable being the tourbillon, invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet. It also produced the first wrist watch in 1810.[1]

Breguet watches are often easily recognized for their coin-edge cases, guilloché dials and blue pomme hands (often now referred to as 'Breguet hands').

In addition to watches, Breguet also manufactures writing instruments, women's jewelry, and cufflinks.[2]

History[edit]

Breguet was founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a Swiss watchmaker born to Hugenot parents in Neuchâtel. He studied watchmaking for 10 years under Ferdinand Berthoud and Jean-Antoine Lépine before setting up his own watchmaking business in Paris at 51 Quai de l'Horloge on the Île de la Cité in Paris. The dowry that came with his marriage to the daughter of a prosperous French bourgeois provided the backing which allowed him to open his own workshop. Breguet's connections made during his apprenticeship as a watchmaker and as a student of mathematics helped him to establish his business. Following his introduction to the court, Queen Marie Antoinette grew fascinated by Breguet's unique self-winding watch; Louis XVI bought several of his watches and legend has it that Marie Antoinette commissioned the watch that was to contain every watch function known at that time – Breguet's masterpiece, the Marie Antoinette (No. 160).

The business was a success, and around 1807 he took on his son Louis-Antoine as his partner, renaming the firm "Breguet et Fils" (Breguet and Sons). Louis-Antoine took over the firm upon the death of his father in 1823. After Louis-Antoine retired in 1833 (he died in 1858) the business was passed to Abraham-Louis' grandson Louis Clément Francois (1804–1883). Abraham-Louis' great-grandson Louis Antoine (1851–1882) was the last of the Breguet family to run the business. Although he had two sons and a daughter, they did not enter the business, so the Breguet company hired noted English watchmaker Edward Brown of Clerkenwell to manage the Paris factory. Brown eventually became a partner and, after Breguet's grandson's death, the owner and head of the company. When Brown died in 1895 the firm was taken over by his sons Edward and Henry. On Edward's retirement in the early 1900s, Henry Brown became the head of the firm.[3]

Breguet changed hands several times in the 1970s and 1980s before being acquired by its current owner the Swatch Group in 1999.[4]

Contemporary production[edit]

Gentlemen's:

  • Classique: Simple, Grandes Complications – popular round pieces, usually with reeded casebands and soldered lugs;
  • Marine – water-resistant, distinguished by the presence of crown guards;
  • Heritage – tonneau-shaped cases;
  • Type XX, XXI, XXII – sports chronographs, based on World War II-era pilots' watches;
  • La Tradition – similar to the long gone Souscription by Breguet, open-faced watches with the movement on the front, along with a small face.

Women's: (mainly distinguished by diamonds)

  • Classique;
  • Marine;
  • Heritage;
  • Type XX;
  • Reine de Naples – oval bezels.

Fictional owners[edit]

Trivia[edit]

References[edit]

  • Breguet 1747–1823 – online edition of the seminal 1921 biography by Sir David Salomons, hosted by Archive.org
  1. ^ "Histoire de la Maison Breguet", Tendance Horologie, 16 April 2009 (French)
  2. ^ "Breguet Collecstions.". Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Salomons, 1921, pp.7–8
  4. ^ "The Swatch Group Ltd. acquires Groupe Horloger Breguet from Investcorp S.A.". Retrieved 3 October 2014. 

External links[edit]