"I could not allow myself to be searched for the sole reason that I had in my pocket a Breguet precisely similar to that of Count Olkhovsky, left to me by my grandfather."
Alexandre Ivanovitch Kouprine
Tempus ex Machina, 1986
Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin's works (1870-1938), written in the realist tradition, bear witness to Breguet's enduring famousness in Russian memories. In a short story entitled 'The Missing Watch', he describes a drinking party held one evening by a group of cavalry officers. One of the officers, Count Olkhovsky, boasts of his rare Breguet watch, only to find to his stupefaction that it is not in his pocket. In order to allay suspicion, and under the influence of drink and fatigue, all the officers agree to submit to a search. All except Lieutenant Chekmarev, who finds himself obliged to leave the party amid general contempt. A few minutes later, Count Olkhovsky's Breguet is found where it had slipped beneath the punch bowl. Chekmarev, meanwhile, has had time to return to his quarters, where he is found with a bullet through his head. A suicide note on his writing table reads: 'Farewell, dear comrades. I swear before God... that I am innocent of this theft. I could not allow myself to be searched for the sole reason that I had in my pocket a Breguet precisely similar to that of Count Olkhovsky, left to me by my grandfather.'
This story, with its tragic ending, was printed as part of a piece on Breguet's work, entitled 'Tempus ex Machina', in issue 22 (1986) of FMR magazine. Purists might question the notion of 'precise similarity' as applied to early Breguet watches, no two of which were the same, and all of which moreover bore an individual number. But then there would have been no story.