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Breguet purchases more of its own history

After the three pocket watches purchased in October 2013, Breguet continues in its quest to complete its collection of historic timepieces created by founder Abraham-Louis Breguet. 


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16 May 2014

On Monday 12 May 2014, Marc A. Hayek, President and CEO of Montres Breguet SA, purchased two important watches, the Breguet Tourbillon n° 1176 – the third tourbillon that he made – and n° 4039, a half-quarter repeating watch. The 1176 tourbillon sold for over CHF 680,000, while the repeater cost CHF 70,000. The auction was held at Christie's in Geneva. (In the photo below, detail of the tourbillon in n° 1176).

4-min tour

N° 1176 was the first 4-minute tourbillon watch that Abraham-Louis Breguet made. It has a power reserve indicator calibrated for 35 hours, a small hour dial, and small rings for the two subsidiary seconds. It has a natural escapement, ‘échappement naturel,’ one of Breguet’s inventions designed to reduce friction and minimize the necessity for lubrication. Breguet made only about 20 watches with this escapement. It was delivered to Count Potocki on 12 February 1809, for the sum of CHF 4,600. The Count's arms are engraved on the back of the watch.

When Breguet made this piece, he was already a celebrated watchmaker, and used a number of external suppliers, such as Tavernier for the gold dial, and Amy Gros for the engraved case. But it is likely that Breguet himself worked personally on some aspects of the movement, because it has some experimental features regarding the curvature of the double teeth and an escape wheel that actually consists of two wheels so that their relation to each other can be adjusted. The balance vibrates at 21,600 vibrations per hour, much higher than the 14,000-18,000 that was standard for the period. In addition, there is a lever in the bezel at 2 o’clock which, when pushed, stops the tourbillon carriage, so that the time can be set accurately. Amazingly this ‘stop-reset’ function seems to have been forgotten since those days, and A. Lange & Söhne reintroduced it into their tourbillon watches only recently, on pieces presented at Baselworld 2014.

tourbillon complete

N° 4039, "répétition plate sur les principes des chronometers," was sold to the Duke of Berwick in 1825, and it is a slim repeater in gold and silver. It has a date display, an engine-turned silver dial, and Breguet hands.