Breguet (brand)

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Breguet SA
Subsidiary
IndustryLuxury watchmaking
Founded1775
FounderAbraham-Louis Breguet
Headquarters,
Switzerland
Key people
Nicolas G. Hayek
ProductsWatches, jewelry
ParentThe Swatch Group
Websitebreguet.ch

Breguet is a luxury watch manufacturer founded by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris, France, in 1775. The brand is one of the oldest surviving watchmaking brands and a pioneer of numerous watchmaking technologies, such as the tourbillon, which was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet. 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.[1]

Breguet has been part of the Swiss Swatch Group since 1999, and is regarded as the premier Swatch brand.[2] It produced the first wristwatch in 1810.[3] The Breguet & Fils, Paris No. 2667 (1814) pocket watch, the most expensive Breguet timepiece at auction, ranks as one of the world's most expensive watch ever sold at auction with a final price of 4.69 million US dollars (4,339,000 CHF) in Geneva on May 14th 2012.[4][5]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Abraham-Louis Breguet

Breguet was founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a Swiss watchmaker born to Huguenot parents in Neuchâtel. He studied watchmaking for ten 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. In 1783 the Swedish count Axel Von Fersen, who was the queen's friend and reputed lover, commissioned a watch from Breguet that was to contain every watch complication known at that time as a gift to Marie Antoinette. The result is a Breguet's masterpiece, the Marie-Antoinette pocket watch (Breguet No.160).[6][7]

The business was a success, and around 1807 Abraham-Louis Breguet 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.[8]

Recent development[edit]

From 1870 to 1970, Breguet was owned by the English Brown family. But the ownership changed hands several times in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976, its then owner Chaumet closed the French factory, and moved production to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.

In 1991, the brand's Bahraini owner Investcorp created Groupe Horloger Breguet (GHB) including Valdar SA and Nouvelle Lemania S.A. As a result, Breguet brand watches are now made at the Nouvelle Lemania factory. In 1992, Breguet acquired another Swiss manufacturer Lemania.

In 1999, Breguet was acquired by the Swatch Group.[9]

Watch manufacturing[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.

Notable models[edit]

Most expensive pieces[edit]

A Breguet squelette watch 2933 with tourbillon
  • On May 14, 2012, a Breguet pocket watch, the Breguet & Fils, Paris No. 2667, was sold in Christie's Geneva auction with a final price of 4.69 million US dollars (CHF 4,339,000). [10][11]
  • On May 14, 2012, a Breguet pocket watch, the Breguet, Paris, No. 4111, was sold in Christie's Geneva auction with a final price of 2.75 million US dollars (CHF 2,547,000).[12][13]
  • On May 16, 2016, a Breguet pocket watch, the Breguet & Fils, No. 217, was sold in Christie's Geneva auction with a final price of 3.33 million US dollars (CHF 3,245,000). [14][15]

Marie-Antoinette pocket watch[edit]

In 1783, an admirer of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, commissioned a watch from Abraham-Louis Breguet as a gift for the Queen.[6][7] The requirement was that the watch should be "as spectacular as possible, incorporating the fullest range of horological expertise known at the time".[6][16] There was no time deadline or financial limit with the commission.[6]

The final product was the Breguet No.160 grand complication. However, the watch was only finished in 1827, 34 years after the death of the Queen, and 4 years after the death of Abraham-Louis Breguet (the watch was eventually completed by the son of Abraham Breguet)[6][16]. In total, it took 44 years to make the watch.[6][16]

The watch had been kept in the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem until it was stolen in 1983.[6][17] In 2007, the watch was eventually recovered and returned to the museum.[6][17]

Notable owners[edit]

Royal families[edit]

Fictional owners[edit]

Breguet No. 627 watch

References[edit]

  • Breguet 1747–1823 – online edition of the seminal 1921 biography by Sir David Salomons, hosted by Archive.org
  1. ^ "Breguet Collecstions". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  2. ^ http://www.timeandwatches.com/p/the-history-of-breguet-part-ii.html?m=1
  3. ^ "Histoire de la Maison Breguet" Archived 13 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Tendance Horologie, 16 April 2009 (French)
  4. ^ "Christie's - Record Price For Any Breguet Watch - Business - WorldTempus". en.worldtempus.com. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  5. ^ "Important Watches". Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Marie-Antoinette pocket watch | Breguet". www.breguet.com. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  7. ^ a b April 21, Arthur Touchot; 2017. "Hands-On: The Breguet Number 1160, A Replica Of The Famous Watch Made For Marie Antoinette". HODINKEE. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  8. ^ Salomons, 1921, pp.7–8
  9. ^ "The Swatch Group Ltd. acquires Groupe Horloger Breguet from Investcorp S.A." Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Breguet & Fils, Paris, No. 2667". www.christies.com. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  11. ^ "Important Watches". Christie's. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  12. ^ "Breguet shines at the Geneva auctions in May – FHH Journal". Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  13. ^ "Patek Philippe (REF. 2499, MOVEMENT NO. 868'019, CASE NO. 687'772, MANUFACTURED IN 1950)". www.christies.com. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  14. ^ "Breguet (No. 217 , SIGNED BREGUET ET FILS, SOLD IN GERMINAL AN 8 (1800) TO GÉNÉRAL MOREAU FOR THE SUM OF 3,600 FRANCS, RESOLD TO MR. HAVAS ON 31ST DECEMBER 1817 FOR 4,800 FRANCS)". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  15. ^ "GLOBAL RESULTS FOR WATCH AUCTIONS IN 2016 | AderWatches". AderWatches. 2017-01-31. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  16. ^ a b c Adamczyk, Alicia. "Return of the Queen: The Curious Saga of Breguet's Infamous Marie Antoinette Watch". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  17. ^ a b Bell, Rebekah (2015-12-02). "The Breguet That Got Away: History's Greatest Watch Heist". Robb Report. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  18. ^ "Abraham-Louis Breguet | Breguet". www.breguet.com. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  19. ^ "Timeline | Breguet". www.breguet.com. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  20. ^ "Timeline | Breguet". www.breguet.com. Retrieved 2018-12-14.

External links[edit]