Often referred to as the father of modern watchmaking, Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder of Breguet in Paris in 1775, invented so many watchmaking concepts in his quest for perfection, not the least of which was the tourbillon escapement (a cage that compensates for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity). Today, Breguet, owned by the Swatch Group, continues to forge ahead with innovation and invention – regularly pushing the creative envelope for complicated high-horology minute repeaters, tourbillons, and more.
Founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris, Breguet is a luxury watch brand with a vibrant history. This Swiss watch brand named after its creator is famous for the invention of the tourbillon, which has made it an influential brand in watchmaking history.
The first automatically wound watch, The Perpétuelle, was developed in 1780, shortly after Breguet’s debut in 1775. Breguet introduced the Gong-spring in 1783, which paved the way for minute repeater watches in the 19th century. Breguet also introduced its peculiar “moon tip” hands in 1783, which contrasted with the Baroque design of the era.
Breguet introduced the guilloche dial decoration technique in 1786. However, its most significant contribution came in 1801, when the brand’s founder came up with the tourbillon. Even today, this gravity-defying mechanism remains a fundamental part of Swiss watchmaking and will continue to influence it for many years to come.
The firm changed its name to “Breguet et Fils” (Breguet and sons) when Abraham-Louis Breguet brought his son Louis-Antoine Breguet into the business in 1807. In 1823, when his father passed away, Louis-Antoine took over and eventually passed Breguet on to his son, Louis Clément Francois, when he retired in 1833.
After Louis Antonie, the great-grandson of Abraham Louis, retired in 1870, Edward Brown, an English watchmaker, took over Breguet. From 1870 to 1970, the Brown family ran the company. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the quartz crisis hit, ownership of the company changed several times. In the interim, the company closed its French factory and moved the production to Valleé de Joux, Switzerland, where it remains today under the ownership of the Swatch Group.
1780- Breguet invented world’s first automatic watch called the Perpétuelle.
1783- Breguet invented the Gong-spring and Breguet Pomme watch hands known for their eccentric “moon tip” design.
1790- Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the Pare-chute, a partial shock-resistance mechanism for watches.
1801- Abraham Louis invented the tourbillon.
1810- Breguet invented the world’s first wristwatch called Breguet No. 2639. Breguet designed it for Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples.
Marie Antoinette Pocket Watch
An admirer of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, commissioned Breguet to design a self-winding gold pocket watch for her in 1783. This Breguet pocket watch No. 160 took 43 years to create, which unfortunately was 34 years after the beheading of Marie Antoinette during the first French Revolution.
Who owns Breguet?
The Swatch Group acquired Breguet from Investcorp in 1999 and remains part of the Swatch Group today.
Fun Fact – Napoleon Bonaparte and Breguet
French leader Napoleon Bonaparte purchased the Breguet No. 178 carriage clock and took it into battle in Egypt on April 24th, 1798. This timepiece amounted to a delicate travel carriage clock that featured a silver face with additional windows showing the date, month, and day of the week.
Breguet Tradition Collection
Breguet’s Tradition timepieces draw inspiration from the legendary Breguet souscription watches produced by Abraham-Louis Breguet. These timepieces for men and women elegantly combine traditional and avant-garde styling with horological complications.
Breguet Classique Collection
The Breguet Classique collection and Classique Complications collections are, as their name indicates, a line of classic watches for men and women. The timepieces are usually slim and fitted with Breguet complications and signature hands.
Breguet Marine Collection
Breguet introduced its Marine collection in the early 1990s. Based on historical sea chronometers from when Abraham-Louis Breguet was the chronometer maker to the French Navy. Breguet’s designers have added a sporty twist to this classic style, with a variety of complications like chronographs, alarm function, and perpetual calendars.
Breguet Type XX – XXI – XXII Collection
The Type XX collections were designed in the 1950s for the French naval air army. The watches in this collection are sporty watches for men, all fitted with Breguet automatic movements.
Breguet Reine De Naples Collection
The Reine de Naples collection features exquisitely-crafted watches for women in elegant designs. This collection truly deserves its title of “Watches fit for a queen.” A hallmark of these watches is their oval-shaped cases with the crown located at 4 o’clock and their single ball-shaped lugs situated at 6 o’clock.
Breguet Héritage Collection
The Héritage collection includes watches both for men and women, instantly recognizable by the curved tonneau case and elegant lines.
Breguet High Jewellery Collection
The Breguet High Jewellery Collection features exquisite fine jewelry timepieces for women, each one an elaborate piece that exudes exceptional craftsmanship and revolutionizing gem-setting techniques.