The box of 104 differs in construction to the other examined early chronometer, 106, which is more in kind with the work of English watchmaker John Arnold. Indeed, like many of Arnold’s marine chronometers, 106 is housed in an octagonal mahogany box, (see Sotheby’s London, The George Daniels Horological Collection 6, November 2012, lot 101). The present lot, 104, is in a large, double mahogany box with rectangular gimbals, and is more like Breguet’s pieces finished later, (see George Daniels, The Art of Breguet 1974, p. 274 illustration 339a). Nevertheless, the movements of both chronometers are strikingly similar, and still retain strong influence from Arnold. The balance echoes those constructed by Ferdinand Berthoud, with four arms and semicircular weights secured by what appear to be gold and platinum screws. It can be presumed that as this chronometer was sold later, the box was likely finished later, and with more experimentation from Breguet himself and therefore not in an octagonal box similar to Arnold’s style.
In 1815, Breguet received the title of Horologer de La Marine. Shortly thereafter, he sold No. 106, and shortly thereafter 104 and 105. From 1818, Breguet’s production of marine chronometers was well under way.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time chronometer No. 104 has appeared to public market, and may be the only opportunity to acquire Breguet’s lowest numbered marine chronometer, a true relic of horological history.
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