Breguet has for generations been synonymous with world-class watchmaking and classic style. Breguet timepieces embody the revolutionary genius of the founder and are true showpieces of his masterly craftsmanship.
By Theresa Valbæk
More than two centuries ago, Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) masterminded some of the most remarkable innovations in the history of watchmaking – each representing a quantum leap in the quest for horological precision and reliability. The French watchmaker still boasts the greatest variety of complex mechanical timepieces on the market.
Abraham-Louis Breguet was born in Switzerland but spent most of his working life in Paris where he pursued a watchmaker’s career. He founded the House of Breguet in 1775 and soon demonstrated a rare talent for the business. Breguet’s most ingenious and celebrated device is the immensely complex tourbillion (‘whirlwind’), which he patented in 1801. The aim of this revolutionary invention was to eliminate performance deviations caused by gravity and thereby increase the accuracy of the timepiece. In the tourbillion the entire balance and escapement rotates around their common axis to average out positional fluctuations due to the inevitable changes of position. Breguet also invented a mechanical perpetual calendar that automatically advanced the calendar display at the end of short months and compensated for leap years. Later models also displayed actual solar time in relation to local mean time, which is of great use in navigation. Breguet was also the inventor of keyless winding and shock protection, features still used in most mechanical watches today.
The world’s most beautiful
Breguet watches are still considered some of the world’s most beautiful and accomplished timepieces, and their classical style reaches back almost 220 years to the days of the founder. Hallmarks of the Breguet style include hand-engraved patterns on the silver-plated gold dials, milling along the side of the casing and the classic design of the arms. One of the most recent Breguet creations is a range of wristwatches named *Tradition*. The design is a marriage of old and new with a very unique feature: the clockwork is visible through the front glass, which relegates the dial itself to the 12 o’clock position.
The Moon watch
Another novel Breguet collection, the *Reine de Naples*, is inspired by an early Breguet bracelet watch commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister Caroline, Queen of Naples. The jewel of the *Reine de Naples* collection is a timepiece featuring self-winding movement, small seconds, a power reserve indicator and phases of the moon indicators – mechanical prowess formerly reserved for gentlemen only. With its bezel and caseband paved with 86 baguette diamonds, the incredibly feminine timepiece is the truly enchanting centrepiece of the collection, establishing *Reine de Naples* as the ultimate design for women who prefer one-of-a-kind bijoux to mainstream timepieces. The amazing style and elegance of their collections and the company’s unique history have made the House of Breguet a world-class performer capturing the desires of both men and women.