Following on from the thread on Breguet Marie Antoinette thread
- someone asked if I could post the article I wrote on the NAWCC Museum collection of Breguets watches. These are three 100% GENUINE watches made by Breguet. I had the huge privilege to touch/operate all three pieces. That is pretty outstanding. Below is one of the articles:
One of the few things in Horology that are without doubt is that Abraham Louis Breguet was 'The' greatest horologist of all times. Breguet was born in Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1747 and was apprenticed to a watchmaker in Versailles, France, in 1762.
The earliest Breguet watch I believe known to exist is no. 2 10/82. The number 2 is the serial number and the fraction the date, in above example the fraction signifies that the watch was made in October 1782. It is a self-winding watch with cylinder escapement which once belonged to Marie Antoinette.
In addition to any watches Breguet made prior to 1787 (when he started keeping records), Breguet made 295 watches by 1793. Then came the French Revolution, and fearing for his life, fled the country, first to Switzerland and then to England where he remained until 1795 when it was then safe to return to France.
Probably his most famous watch recently returned to the Jerusalem University in Israel was a watch ordered in 1783 by Queen Marie Antoinette, and eventually finished in 1800. Of course it was never delivered as Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine on 16 Oct 1793.
The movement of this most famous timepiece is made of gold and steel, and is fully jeweled. It has a detached lever escapement, with bimetallic compensation balance and helical spring. Complications consist of 'Perpetual Calendar, self winding mechanism with up-and-down indicator, minute repeater, equation of time, independent seconds and thermometer.
it is numbered 160.
Just to list a few of his genius in watchmaking.
1780 - Breguet hands with off center hollowed-out points
1786 - Hand worked, engine turned (guilloche) dials.
1790 - 'para-chute' shock absorber. Now called 'Incabloc' and patented in 1933 - some 43 yrs later!
1791 - Stop watch with independent jumping seconds.
1794 - Jump hour (Hueres Sautantes) display
1795 - Breguet over-coil balance spring.
1799 - Tactile watch (Montre a Tact)
1801 - Tourbillon
1810 - Pendule Sympathique
1810 - FIRST wrist watch Queen of Naples.
So how lucky was I to meet with a Mr Philip Poniz - horology expert, who came to do further research on the Breguet collection here at NAWCC. As a master horologist Philip Poniz was not just allowed to look and touch the collection, but also to open them up, remove dials and generally make all observations required.
Mr Poniz has the complete database of Breguet's private records/archives, so I share with you the following AMAZING information!!
The first Piece:
Breguet - Push repeater pocket watch. Cylinder escapement with rubies.
Made as a series of 3.
27th Jan 1814: Sold to Queen Caroline Bonaparte Murat of Naples for 1392 FF. (Her brother was Emperor Napoleon Bonoparte)
May 26th 1814 - Returned to Breguet.
June 22nd 1814 sold to Frederick Guillaume Louis of Prussia - 2nd son of King of Prussia for 1248FF
March 23rd 1822 - Bought back by Breguet for 720 FF.
July 19th 1822 - Sold to Chevalier Le Francois de Marconville for 1500 FF.
Case and Silver made by - Tavernier - (Case cost 308 FF, Silver dial cost 10 FF) note 1
Escapement made by - 'AVIT' - cost to Breguet - 58 FF
Note 1: Originally dial was enamel and made by Lucard - cost 8 FF.
Total Cost = 1,074 FF (Sold for 1392 FF.)
Above Information supplied by Philip Poniz - 7/6/2012
The second piece actually on loan from California Academy of Science:
Set of 6
Oct 25th 1815: Sold Monsieur Lindesay of 39th English regiment for 640 FF.
Dial Maker - Lucard.
Ebauche maker: Redard - cost 68 FF
Escapement made by: Garcin - Ruby cylinder - cost 50 FF
case maker: Gross - cost 68 FF
Total Cost to breguet = 397 FF
Above Information received Philip Poniz - 7/6/2012
And number 3 also on loan from California Academy of Science.
Breguet Repeater. Dumb Repeater - Enamel Dial
Set of 3
Nov 5th 1804 - Sold 'anon' Monsieur - for 1320 FF
Returned to Breguet.
11 Feb 1832 sold to Monsieur Martin - for 800 FF
Original Cylinder escapement replaced by Breguet granson to a Earnshaw 'Spring detent'
Original copper Cuvette replaced to gold.
Ebauche maker: Decombaz
Case Maker: Gross
Dial (original) - Lucard
Dial (current) - P. Droz
Case maker: Collier
Cost to make = 913 FF
Above information supplied by : Philip Poniz - 6/7/2012
Truly one of the best days in my life, to see a Breguet is exciting, to touch a Breguet is super, to hear a Breguet repeater is outstanding, but to additionally have an expert talk you through this time piece is AMAZING.
I bow to Mr Poniz knowledge (bow)
California Academy of Science.
New York University - The first Piece: Breguet - Push repeater pocket watch.
H.G. Harris - Collecting and Identifying old watches.
Philip Poniz - Chief Expert and Horologist
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