In 1783, just as the queen of France, Marie Antoinette, was sitting for a portrait an officer of the queen’s guard visited Abraham-Louis Breguet’s workshop: Queen Marie Antoinette desired a pocket watch containing all known horological complications at the time. It took 44 years to complete and is perhaps the most famous watch in history; as much for its intriguing story as its ingenious mechanics.
Several years ago, Breguet quietly introduced a complicated vintage-style pocket watch into its collection: the Reference 1907 Classique Grande Complication. It displays the time in regulator style, chimes the time in the form of a minute repeater with grande sonnerie, and provides extra precision thanks to the one-minute tourbillon. So where does the reference number 1907 come from? That’s a mystery, for sure. And while I have no official explanation, I can make an educated guess. So I will.
This fascinating book closely examines a crucial 15 years in the life of the long, long career of Breguet, the brand. This is the unadulterated story of how the modern Breguet brand was created after the Chaumet brothers, Jacques and Pierre, acquired it in 1970 “for a modest sum.”
I had the privilege of being invited to the recent pre-opening gala for the San Francisco exhibition of the works of Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Since the foundation of my collecting passion has a lot to do with gaining access to the behind the scenes world of watches, I made a point of shuffling my “day job” schedule to attend. And now you can come along.
The Breguet Reine de Naples collection launched in 2002 following the historic description of an “oblong (repeater) for bracelet.” This now-iconic feminine shape was resurrected 190 years after Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, commissioned Abraham-Louis Breguet to make the repeater for her royal wrist. The Reine de Naples’ oval-shaped case is a rare sight in watchmaking, but it serves to make one of the most memorable watches in production today.
As the resident pen writer at this publication, and since ‘plume’ is the French word for both quill and pen, I thought I’d share my thoughts about Breguet’s Rêve de Plume. This haute joaillerie timepiece is part of the Breguet Plumes collection, and it is a tribute to Queen Marie Antoinette.
Sometimes watchmakers come up with something that appears to come straight out of a medical textbook. Like a mainspring that’s not a mainspring, even though it’s a mainspring. And this is the kind of incredible thing present inside the Breguet 7077 La Tradition Independent Chronograph, which, as its name implies, has a chronograph gear train independent of the main going train even powered by its own spring. And they are designed to do two very different things.
When it comes to a brand like Breguet, one expects nothing but the very best in every aspect of its representation. So I figured its pens, like its recent jewelry collections, would be solid and elegant expressions of the company’s overriding sense of quality and innovation. I was right.
It seems like only yesterday, but it was all the way back in January of 2014 that I had the opportunity to sit down for the first time with Elizabeth and Ian and hear their plans for Quill & Pad. Before the year completely gets away, here are a few of my observations and reflections on the industry, my first year at Quill & Pad, and my year in watches.
You may be familiar with the old Christmas diddy “The Twelve Days Of Christmas.” Let me sing you the final verse of this song, including what my true love gave to me on the twelfth and final day, in horological terms…