Breguet: The Godfather of Watchmaking

Breguet: The Godfather of Watchmaking

Abraham-Louis Breguet, the creator of the tourbillon movement and the first wristwatch, assembled an impressive following of royals and emperors alike.
Abraham-Louis Breguet, the creator of the tourbillon movement and the first wristwatch, assembled an impressive following of royals and emperors alike.

When it comes to collecting timepieces, many collectors favor a brand with a distinguished legacy. The Breguet brand name certainly carries a rich and storied history with it.

Abraham-Louis Breguet founded Breguet in 1775, when he opened a workshop in Île de la Cité of Paris, where he would quickly rise to become one of the greatest watchmakers of all time. His House would also be one of the most established and longest-running watch brands in the world.

Two examples of Breguet’s Tourbillon: A LARGE GOLD OPEN-FACED SKELETONISED KEYLESS ONE-MINUTE 1983-1984, REF. BA1820, NO. 4266 and a Reference 3657PT129V6, a platinum wristwatch circa 2000s
TWO EXAMPLES OF BREGUET’S TOURBILLON: A LARGE GOLD OPEN-FACED  SKELETONISED  KEYLESS ONE-MINUTE 1983-1984, REF. BA1820, NO. 4266 AND A REFERENCE 3657PT129V6, A PLATINUM WRISTWATCH CIRCA 2000'S

Among the distinguished patrons of Breguet, there is a long list of luminaries: Napoleon Bonaparte bought three Breguet pieces before his expedition to Egypt, and Sir Winston Churchill famously wore his Breguet number 765 throughout his life. But the acquaintance that put his name on the map was no less than Marie Antoinette who, in 1782, commissioned a piece – the watch bearing Breguet number 160 – which is now an iconic masterpiece due to its historical value and complex build. The final creation is still considered the 5th most complicated watch in the world (the queen’s instruction was to include every known refinement, complication and function available at the time, with no time or monetary limits for the order).

Image of Winston Churchill on the left with an image of hhis Breguet number 765 to the right
Winston Churchill famously wore his Breguet number 765 all his life

Abraham-Louis Breguet’s name is often associated with his groundbreaking complications that still remain the gold standard among watchmakers. Among the most famous, the tourbillon movement is known as the most complicated of complications. Breguet was the first to understand the effects of gravity on the precision of watches. His tourbillon was a game changer then, and continues to fascinate collectors today. Most brands shy away from making a tourbillon due to its delicate and expensive nature, but among the top tier of watch brands, having a tourbillon in their offerings is not only a must, it serves as proof of technical excellency.

Three images of Breguet’s Reine de Naples: Ref 8909BB in white gold and diamonds, Reference 8918BA58864D00D in Mother-of-pearl, diamonds and gold, Reference 8968BR/X1/J50 0D00 35 mm rose gold case and a sapphire glass
Three examples of Breguet’s Reine de Naples: Ref 8909BB in white gold and diamonds, Reference 8918BA58864D00D in Mother-of-pearl, diamonds and gold, Reference 8968BR/X1/J50 0D00 35 mm rose gold case and a sapphire glass

Another creation by Breguet is the first wristwatch ever known – the Breguet watch number 2639 was made for Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples. An avid admirer, she would eventually acquire up to 34 clocks and watches from the brand. In tribute to its exciting legacy, Breguet would eventually draw on the first wristwatch for its Reine de Naples collection of watches for ladies. Its motto is fittingly “In every woman is a queen.”

Breguet is also credited with the Perpétuelle watch, which is essentially the invention of the first self-winding watch. Even though Abraham-Louis Breguet’s contribution to watchmaking as an individual is incomparable, the tradition of innovation continued with his son, Antoine-Louis, who produced the first watches to be equipped with a winding crown, or keyless winding.

For watches with a rich legacy that still continue to push the realm of possibilities, one can look no further than a Breguet.


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