Louis Napoleon III (1808-1873), nephew of Napoleon I, was President of the Second Republic of France. In 1852 he became Emperor of the French and, following two prosperous decades in office, his reign was brought to an end in 1870 by the defeat of his army during the Franco-Prussian war.
An incredibly rare tourbillon watch with duplex escapement, this famous watch formed part of the Belin Collection which was sold at Sotheby's in London exactly 40 years ago. By repute, the watch was traditionally believed to have been presented to Napoleon III at the Paris Exposition of 1867. However, a presentation at or shortly after the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle now seems more likely, given the style of the watch and the fact that the battles of Alma and Inkermann took place in 1854.
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