Rarely does such a treasure appear in the public and come up for auction. This is a watch crafted by the hands of the watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet. Yes, that guy, the one who changed the course of watchmaking. Here we have a recently discovered and previously unknown, pocket watch that has have surfaced from the private collection of a European noble family and is one the most important watches to appear in a generation.
Today, the company carries on their namesake’s legacy, pushing the boundaries of invention and discovery, seen from their use of silicon in high-frequency escapements to the Reveil Musical, a watch that plays a tune like a music box.
Breguet’s genius is unparalleled. Born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, he spent most of his productive life in Paris. Known as “the watchmakers of the kings, the king of the watchmakers”, Breguet counted Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie-Antoinette, among his clients.
His inventions changed the course of watchmaking, from his self-winding “perpetuelle” watches and the introduction of gongs for repeating watches to the first shock-protection for balance pivots, the Breguet balance spring, and the famed tourbillon. In fact, he created the world’s first wristwatch for Caroline Murat, queen of Naples.
As you can imagine, Breguet watches were the most prestigious and costly. Only royal and aristocratic families, high-ranking generals or politicians or exceptionally wealthy individuals could afford these timekeepers. Since Breguet only made a scant 4,500 pieces over his lifetime, most of which are in private collections or museums, it’s an extraordinary event when original pieces come to market.
This gorgeous piece is an experimental “Montre à deux movements” (no. 2667), a watch created with two complete movements to exploit the phenomenon of resonance in order to increase precision. It was first sold in August 1814 to a Mr. Garcias of London for 5,000 francs and later to the Prince of Carignan, Count of Villafranca, for the amount of 4,500 francs. Research shows that Breguet only made three examples of this type of watch: this one; a second created for George IV, King of England; and the third for the French crown; the latter two are now housed in the Jerusalem museum.
This Breguet Resonance comes up for auction at Christie’s in Geneva on May 14th. See the lot here.
Aurel Bacs, International Head of Christie’s Watches, gives us the treat of explaining this amazing find and its significance. Enjoy!