Breguet number 4691 is a gold pocket watch that was auctioned by Sotheby’s in Geneva on 12 October 2013. With an estimated prices of CHF 600,000-1 million, it actually sold for CHF 1,025,000, purchased by the Breguet Museum and its president Marc A. Hayek. Breguet also purchased two other antique watches, bidding both at Sotheby’s and at the Christie’s auction the day before, 11 November.
It’s easy to understand why Breguet were so anxious to return to its origins, as it were. Breguet No. 4691 is one of the most complicated watches to have been made by Breguet, in a very slim case, just 7.7 millimetres thick. It is exceptional for the complications that it includes:
- minute repeater sounding on gong
- calendar function
- equation of time between 5 and 7 o’clock
- slow/fast regulation indicator
- small seconds at 9 o’clock
- subdial for months indicated by letters at 3 o’clock
- subdial for day between 10 and 11 o’clock
- moon phase above 12 o’clock
- power reserve indicator below 12 o’clock
The movement has a gilt brass lever escapement with compensation balance and parachute suspension, and it is housed in a gold case that bears the mark LJ, for case maker Louis Joly. The watch is actually pair-cased, with the outer case in guilloche gold and a push button between 12 and 1 o’clock to release the main body of the watch.
This beautiful piece was sold on 13 October 1831 to Lord Henry Seymour Conway. 182 years later, it has returned to its origins.
At Christie’s, the Breguet watches auctioned an exceptional piece, a Breguet purchased in 1825 by King George IV. This, Breguet No. 4420, is a gold and silver hunter case cylinder watch with eccentric hour and minute dials, complete with its original red Morocco Box. King George purchased it for 2,900 francs; Breguet bought it at the auction for CHF 293,000.
The third watch that has returned to the Breguet fold is No. 5015, an open-face lever watch with keyless winding, hand setting, and date indication. The lot included the original certificate and red Morocco box. Sold on 3 July 1833 to Marquis d’Abercorn for 3,870 francs, it reached the figure of CHF 47,500 at the Christie’s auction.