In 1775, the reign of Louis XVI just took place and ushers in a new wind over France. The King is favorable to the arts, and Breguet takes advantage of it to start its own business. He is successful up until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. The unstable climate in Paris forces him to flee his adopted country, and he returns to Switzerland. When he comes back, Abraham-Louis Breguet sets out to rebuild his business and find a new clientele.
Conceived by Breguet in 1795 and presented to the public for the first time at the national exhibition of 1798, the sympathique clock was a system comprising a clock and watch. The clock was designed to hold the watch which, when placed in a recess, was automatically adjusted and reset. The term ‘sympathique’ was chosen by Breguet to express the notion of harmony and concord, ‘sympathy’ being used in its mystical sense to signify the universal principle that unites in harmonious accord the organs of the human body, the human race and the cosmos.
Although the sympathique clock enhanced Breguet’s fame, it remained complex and costly to make. Abraham-Louis sold only five examples, all different, before his death in 1823, and Antoine-Louis only one, in 1830.
All were bought by kings or princes.
Breguet synchronising (sympathique) clock No. 666 and its simple watch no. 721 sold in August 1814 to the British Prince Regent (the future King George IV of Great Britain). The Royal Collection