18,000 - 22,000 CHF
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- A RARE AND EARLY SILVER AND GOLD SOUSCRIPTION WATCH CIRCA 1799
NO 4O8 SOUSCRIPTION SILVER CASE NO 353 BY MERMILLOD SOLD TO M. DOUMERE FILS ON VENTÔSE AN 7
• gilt movement, ruby cylinder escapement, steel escape wheel, regulator with compensation curb • white enamel dial, Arabic numerals, five minute divisions, early cursive signature above 6, blued steel single hand • gold bezels and bow, engine-turned silver case back • case, dial and movement signed, case numbered B 353 and 408 and stamped Ami Gros, hallmarks from the period
It is around 1794, during Abraham Louis Breguet’s exile in Switzerland, when he had the idea of creating watches for an affordable price using the same escapement as the more sophisticated watches for civil use, with a parachute in between the two pivots from the balance and a bimetallic compensation curve on the racket. As stated in the advertisement notice, published on the occasion of its launch, the size of these watches was to be designed in such a way that all components were accessible and individually removable so that their movement could be serviced everywhere, even by inexperienced watchmakers. To reduce costs, the dial was divided so that it was easy to read the time to the nearest minute, using a single hand powered by a spring barrel which was placed at the center of the movement. Such watches, in Breguet’s eyes, had especially the advantage of being produced in small series. To finance the equipment used, purchases of supplies and the desire to focus on research while ensuring the company's regular income, Breguet then had the idea to market these watches by subscription, or Souscription in French. Subscribers would pay half the price that had been agreed at the time of the order and the watches would then be delivered as and when they were produced, and on receipt of payment. A production in series of 10-13 watches at a time was set up. In general, they were sold at 600 francs in a silver case or 800 francs in a gold box. Furthermore, in order to prevent these watches which were of a relatively simple design from being forged, Breguet invented a secret signature which was only visible in a raking light. This secret signature was created through the use of a pantograph which was especially designed for such a purpose. Souscription watches were produced in various sizes, the smallest being qualified as a medallion.