1789 - Breguet key

Breguet key

Invention of the ratchet key known as the “Breguet key”.

The ratchet key for winding clocks and watches known as a Breguet key was a comparatively modest invention that seems to have made its first appearance in 1789. The key shaft is fitted with a ratchet designed to prevent winding in the wrong direction and to ensure smooth winding. Honoré de Balzac made explicit reference to this type of key in his novel La rabouilleuse (1842).

The gold chain, known as the ‘Breguet chain’, which clients received with their watches (and keys) was made up of interlocking double round links inserted inside each other. Frequently certain sections of the chain, made up of finer links, were doubled back on each other. 

Breguet No. 155 sold on July 27, 1812 to Mr Jones de Boston.