But the creative and visionary genius that was Nicolas G. Hayek also revived the cultural and emotional dimension of the brand and restored it to its noble pedigree. A new chapter in Breguet history began, studded with fabulous projects, daring challenges and guided by the watchword of unveiling the finest treasures emerging from an encounter between art, beauty and technology.
Now able to draw upon the industrial and commercial strength of the Swatch Group, the brand had all the material and technical resources it would need to perpetuate the art of fine watchmaking and to create exceptional models in order to meet the expectations of brand devotees and connoisseurs.
Signs of renewal soon appeared. The brand was first of all equipped with a manufacturing facility on a par with its ambitions. Recruitment of the best-qualified watchmakers was reinforced, as was training and the passing on of time-honoured skills by artisans excelling in their respective arts and crafts.
Substantial and regular investments were made in state-of-the-art testing machinery as well as in research and development. Nicolas G. Hayek attached great importance to research and would initiate work on new materials such as the application of silicon in watchmaking, for components such as the escapement, as well as whole new movement projects. Under his leadership, Breguet developed and registered more than 77 new patents, and also built a new movement each year, several of which were truly revolutionary, such as the double tourbillon. This innovative capacity made Breguet a reference in the field of Haute Horlogerie, alongside its existing unique status as an integral part of the European cultural heritage.
It is this unique position that inspired the most prestigious museums to welcome the brand’s legendary timepieces. These initiatives were of course fervently supported by Breguet. Exhibition in the Ermitage in St. Petersburg, or in the Louvre in Paris, are just two of these exceptional events that have delighted connoisseurs and aficionados, as well as Nicolas G. Hayek, who loved to view culture as synonymous with sharing. This same desire also led the Manufacture Breguet ot take up magnificent challenges, including that of reproducing the legendary Marie-Antoinette watch that had vanished without trace.
This challenge was all the more daring in that the Breguet master-watchmakers and engineers had only a handful of archives and technical descriptions, and had to make use of the techniques prevailing at the time of its making.
This love of art and beauty led Nicolas G. Hayek toward the principle of preserving humanity’s historical and cultural heritage well beyond the watchmaking world through various prestigious patronage activities with a powerful emotional content. The most iconic of all, to mention but one, is undoubtedly the restoration of the Petit Trianon, an authentic tribute paid be Breguet to Queen Marie-Antoinette, a sincere admirer and loyal customer of the brand.
It was this universe mingling art, culture, understatement and exceptional achievements that Nicolas G. Hayek loved to share. Following his tragic death on June 28th 2010, Marc A. Hayek has taken up the reins of the brand. The spirit remains and the story continues…