This where the flash should stand...

Breguet acquires a document bearing essential testimony to watchmaking history

29.06.2010

Nicolas G. Hayek, President and CEO of Montres Breguet, recently acquired a crucial document in the history of watchmaking for the record sum of 2.3 million Swiss francs. This purchase of the memoirs of the illustrious watchmaker A.-L. Breguet was made at an auction organised by Patrizzi & Co on May 7th 2010.

A decade or so before his death, Breguet began working with his staff members on writing long texts. He planned to publish a treatise that would provide an account of his career as well as a methodical review of his inventions. In it he would write about his entire body of work, from the simplest to the most complicated watches, from the famous Souscription model to the Tourbillon, as well as the first self-winding perpétuelle watches, of his work on escapements, and many other secrets. The language was to be simple and didactic; Breguet wished to be understood by as many people as possible and to inspire new vocations…

When he passed away in 1823, the highly ambitious endeavour was unfinished; the manuscript remained as it was and appeared to vanish. While some chapters were barely roughed out, others had reached an extremely advanced state of drafting and were almost ready to be published; these are the chapters that were found again in the spring of 2010.

When put up for auction, the work comprised seven separate lots. Frenzied bidding took the first lot to four times its initial estimate, and the same thing occurred with each of the other lots. Finally, in accordance with the provisions of Swiss law, the entire of documents was regrouped into a single lot and finally sold to the Breguet Museum after a fierce fight with various institutions and private collections.

The 7 lots comprised the following manuscripts:

  1. The history of Breguet and his philosophy
  2. One-hand watches and new repeater
  3. Souscription watches and repeater mechanism
  4. Perpétuelle watches and their repeaters
  5. Equation of time, calendars and tourbillons
  6. Marine horology
  7. Marine chronometers, longitude watches, Breguet balance-spring

Nicolas G. Hayek, President and CEO of Montres Breguet, thereby succeeded in purchasing what many specialists consider as the most significant body of testimony in the entire history of watchmaking, thus enabling this manuscript, which may in due course be published, to regain its rightful place within the brand’s stunningly rich heritage.