Breguet traditionally organizes an exhibition at Cité du Temps in Geneva coinciding with the watch fair SIHH held in the same city, and this year it is of particular significance. The brand is highlighting eight fundamental watchmaking inventions, with a series of experimental interactive showcases that help visitors understand their function and importance.
The exhibition began on 20 January, and it is open until 23 February 2014. It was the venue for a special event on 22 January, with a cocktail at which Nayla Hayek, Chair of the Board of Directors of Swatch Group, and Marc A. Hayek, President and CEO of Breguet, were present. Marc A. Hayek was awarded three prizes: ‘Man of the Year’ for the second consecutive year by Wei Koh, founder of the publication; ‘Best Women’s Watch’ for the Breguet Reine de Naples Day/Night; and ‘Best Revolutionary Watch’ for the Jaquet Droz Charming Bird.
As regards the inventions, Breguet had a lot to choose from. From 1775 to today, Breguet have registered over 200 patents. The Tourbillon is without doubt the most famous of all, now a feature of many high-end watches, but a brilliant idea back in 1801 when Abraham-Louis Breguet designed this mechanism that compensates for the detrimental effect of gravity on a watch’s precision.
In 1812, Breguet revolutionized the concept of how a timepiece was worn. Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, requested a watch that she could wear on her wrist like a bracelet, and Abraham Louis Breguet built an oval model with a bracelet made of gold thread and twisted hair. For the first time, a timepiece was brought out of the pocket and onto the wrist.
At that time, all timepieces were wound using keys, but in 1830, Breguet invented the crown, making it possible to wind the watch and set the time using a button permanently fixed to the watch.
More recent inventions highlighted at the exhibition are the first dual time-zone; a high-frequency balance wheel to improve precision; and the first magnetic regulator. The latter, one of the most recent developments, is a remarkable conceptual development and a great feat of engineering. For centuries, magnetism has been an enemy for watchmaking, because magnetic fields can magnetize a watch and ruin its precision. Breguet, with the Swatch Group, have performed a lot of work on anti-magnetic materials such as silicon, and this in turn made it possible to design the magnetic regulator. This eliminates problem of wear, and reduces the noise produced by the watch. The system has been used in the Breguet Classique La Musicale for precisely this reason.
The final step in the use of magnetic fields inside the watch is represented by the magnetic pivot, in which micro-magnets are used to hold the staff of the balance wheel, which therefore rotates without any physical contact with a bearing. This dramatic step forward in watchmaking technology was showcased in the Classique Chronométrie.
Breguet is a brand that brilliantly combines its glittering heritage with the latest research and development, and this is the characteristic that emerges in the show at Cité du Temps. Highly recommended.