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A. L. Breguet


A. L. Breguet (1747 – 1823) was born in Neuchâtel, France but spent most of his productive life in Paris. Breguet, both the man and the firm that bears his name, have had a profound effect on European culture. He is known as the architect of the greatest revolution in the science and art of time-keeping.

His career began with breakthroughs that included the development of self-winding perpetual watches, the introduction of gongs for repeating watches and the first shock-protection for balance pivots.

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were early enthusiasts of Breguet’s watchmaking. The watches coming from his workshops had the latest improvements in original movements and most were fitted with the lever or ruby-cylinder escapements that he perfected.

A.-L. Breguet took refuge in Switzerland during the French Revolution and returned to Paris with new ideas that resulted in the Breguet balance-spring, his first carriage clock (sold to Napoléon), the sympathique clock and its dependent watch, the tact watch, and finally the tourbillon, patented in 1801.

Breguet became the indispensable watchmaker to scientific, military, financial and diplomatic elites of the age. His timepieces ruled the courts of Europe. For his most celebrated clients, Breguet designed exceptional timepieces. In 1810, for Caroline Murat, queen of Naples, he conceived the world’s first wristwatch.

Honors were bestowed on Breguet for his many important contributions to watchmaking a/k/a horology. Appointed to the Board of Longitude and as chronometer-maker to the navy, he entered the Academy of Sciences and received the Legion of Honour from Louis XVIII.

Today, the Breguet name carries the same cachet as its founder: a capacity to innovate that remains vital and creative. Now overseen by Nicolas G. Hayek, Breguet’s contemporary selection of watches and jewelry continue to contain bold innovations resulting in the Breguet firm filing a number of relatively new patent applications.

Breguet holds a special place in our cultural heritage because A.-L. Breguet set the standard by which all fine watchmaking is now judged. Currently, the heirs at Breguet still make each timepiece as a model of supreme watchmaking art.

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