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The Modern Times of Breguet

by Michael Weare
25 April, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Breguet today

Breguet today

Modern management – a confident new era

Today Breguet is able to draw upon the industrial and commercial strength of the Swatch Group. Before his death in June 2010, Nicolas Hayek had ensured that his most beloved of all brands had the material and technical resources at its disposal to perpetuate the art of fine watchmaking and to create exceptional models in order to meet the expectations of brand devotees and connoisseurs.

Substantial and regular investments were made in state-of-the-art testing machinery as well as in research and development. Under Nicholas Hayek’s 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.

With Breguet now run by Nicholas’ grandson Marc Hayek, the brand excelled at Baselworld 2011 with the introduction of several important new timepieces and, in the opinion of many, they were among the most active and exciting brands of the entire show.

Location and head offices

In 1996, Breguet was equipped with a new state of the manufacturing facility on a par with its ambitions. Located literally a stone’s throw from picturesque Lake de Joux, the corporate head office and the manufacturing facility are both along the same road in the quiet village of L’Abbaye.

Breguet recruited the best-qualified watchmakers encouraged to excel in their respective arts and crafts. Nicholas Hayek’s was a corner office overlooking the lake. Today it is no doubt occupied by grandson Marc.

The Breguet brand

Stores worldwide

Right from day one in 1775, founder A.L. Breguet ensured that the brand cultivated only the most prestigious and exclusive audiences for its various watch lines. He began by winning the favour of the court of King Louis XVI, and today the tradition of exclusivity in Breguet’s carefully chosen distribution network continues.

Breguet boutiques can be found in only the most select cities throughout the world; New York, London and Paris, of course, but also Los Angeles, Dubai, Moscow, Hong Kong, and in mainland China in Shanghai and Ningbo – a sure sign that business is expected to boom substantially in China as well as India where outlets have already opened in New Delhi and Bangalore. Indeed so exclusive is the marque that there are only 500 points of sale across the entire globe.

Breguet brand ambassadors

With many brands there is a roll call of well known celebrities from movie stars to sports stars who endorse the marque for a colossal fee. The hope is that the popularity and charisma of the star will somehow rub off on the watches they are promoting. Breguet’s list of brand ambassadors runs to a nice round figure – precisely zero.

Breguet doesn’t use any brand ambassadors at all. The brand itself is the ambassador. Such is the high regard for the heritage and quality of Breguet that it actively does not want any movie or sports personality to detract from its allure.

The Breguet Collection

A watch from the the Breguet collection continues to be one of the most highly prized of all timepieces. Breguet divide their lines to reflect the rich heritage of their timepieces, which is why so many of the collection titles such as Tradition, Heritage, La Reine de Naples all hint of the brand’s illustrious past. After all, if you’ve got it, it makes a lot of sense to flaunt it.

Tradition

Inspired by the legendary Souscription watches of A. L. Breguet, Tradition timepieces suggest both a return to the brand’s origins and a vision of its future. Aptly reconciling established and avant-garde styling, their dial face accommodates horological complications in trim, aesthetically sweeping compositions.

Inviting a journey through time and beyond, the Tradition line expresses a vibrant salute to the memory of Breguet.

Inspired by the legendary Souscription watches of A. L. Breguet, Tradition timepieces suggest both a return to the brand’s origins and a vision of its future. Aptly reconciling established and avant-garde styling, their dial face accommodates horological complications in trim, aesthetically sweeping compositions. True to the rules of flawless craftsmanship instituted two centuries ago, even their most modest parts receive a sand-blasted surface finish, meticulously applied by hand.

Masterly expressions of time’s elusive complexity, Tradition timepieces deftly capture its innermost spirit.

Classique

Inspired by A.L. Breguet’s styling, the Classique wristwatches exemplify his ideals of precision, clarity and elegant lines. In some models, the precious materials of former times and fired-enamel dials with Arabic numerals will delight Breguet enthusiasts.

From Breguet

Inspired by A.L. Breguet’s styling, the Classique wristwatches exemplify the watchmaking ideals of precision, clarity and elegant lines.

Whether extra-slim models with manually wound or automatic movements or complicated watches, they are all true to the technical principles, the artistry and the traditional values of the Breguet watch.

Classique wristwatches capture the essence of Breguet’s original features. In some models, the precious materials of former times and fired-enamel dials with Arabic numerals will delight Breguet enthusiasts.

Classique Complications

Thinking and working in four dimensions, generations of Breguet watchmakers have driven their art to new heights turning out minute repeaters, perpetual calendar watches and tourbillon designs. Two patents, for instance, protect Breguet’s most recent developments in perpetual calendar design.

From Breguet

Art in the superlative:Breguet’s Grandes Complications salute the centuries-old meeting of peerless watchmaking and mechanical mastery.

Even today, watchmakers approach this area of watchmaking with few illusions as to the magnitude of the challenge. Building a Grande Complication wristwatch confronts them with a maze of technical difficulties challenging both their skill and their powers of invention. Thinking and working in four dimensions, generations of Breguet watchmakers have driven their art to new heights turning out minute repeaters, perpetual calendar watches and tourbillon designs. Two patent, for instance, protect Breguet’s most recent developments in perpetual calendar design.

Marine

The Marine watches possess all the qualities laid down by A. L. Breguet as chronometer maker to the French Navy. A reinforced case and a protected crown make the Marine watches safe in action, while their workmanship and styling show that elegance always outranks fashion.

From Breguet

Marine watches express the Breguet ideals in a sturdy leisure watch designed to meet modern demands for comfort, practicality and style.

The Marine watches possess all the qualities laid down by A.-L. Breguet as chronometer maker to the French Navy.

A reinforced case and a protected crown make the Marine watches safe in action, while their workmanship and styling show that elegance always outranks fashion.

Héritage

A Breguet watch does not need a round case to be recognised for what it is. The Héritage models show that even in a curved tonneau case, a Breguet remains unmistakably a Breguet.

From Breguet
A Breguet watch does not need its conventional round case to be recognised for what it is.The Héritage models show that even in a curved tonneau case, a Breguet remains unmistakably a Breguet.

Adapting late 18th-century styling concepts to the shapes of the 21st century demands a great deal from design engineers, casemakers and dial-makers. But the perfect curves of the case and the delicately engine-turned dial set off the case-band fluting and curling lugs to their best advantage.

Type XX / Type XXI

Breguet makes Type XX watches in two versions: the Aéronavale and the Transatlantique, with date indication. The Type XXI design features a fly-back minute totaliser at centre and a 24-hour time display.

From Breguet

Designed in the 1950s for the French naval air arm, the Type XX returns to the Breguet collection in a civilian version fitted with a self-winding movement.

Its chronograph, however, retains the fly-back function needed for flying search patterns. Its uncompromising looks and strong construction have made the Type XX popular among those seeking an original and technical sports watch.

Breguet makes Type XX watches in two versions: the Aéronavale and the Transatlantique, with date indication. The Type XXI design features a fly-back minute totaliser at centre and a 24-hour time display. Versions of the Transatlantique are also made for women who appreciate technical elegance.

Reine de Naples

Breguet’s Reine de Naples collection is inspired by an early bracelet watch A. L. Breguet created for Bonaparte’s sister Caroline, Queen of Naples. With their customary care and precision, Breguet’s watchmakers have created a symbol of feminine refinement in a contemporary jewellery watch.

From Breguet

Reine de Naples Collection. Breguet created the first wristwatch for a queen.
It’s perfectly natural for Breguet to stay true to women. Its watches have fascinated and enchanted some of the most prominent female figures of history – Queen Marie-Antoinnette of France, the marquise de Condorcet and Empress Josephine among them.

Breguet’s Reine de Naples collection is inspired by an early bracelet watch A.-L. Breguet created for Bonaparte’s sister Caroline, Queen of Naples. With their customary care and precision, Breguet’s watchmakers have created a symbol of feminine refinement in a contemporary jewellery watch.

High Jewellery watches

Breguet also makes some of the world’s most exclusive high jewellery watches. Made from only the finest materials including diamonds, platinum and white gold this is an opportunity for Breguet craftsmen to reveal their passion for craftsmanship and rare beauty.

Breguet masterpieces

The Marie-Antoinette watch

In 2005, Nicolas G. Hayek challenged himself to precisely reproduce the Queen Marie-Antoinette watch, stolen in 1983 from a Jerusalem museum, and originally commissioned by Marie Antoinette herself. Simultaneously, near the Queen’s residence at Versailles, Le Petit Trianon, the favourite oak tree where she liked to day dream was about to be struck down.

Nicolas G. Hayek decided to extend its life by fashioning a presentation case to hold the second Marie Antoinette watch. Versailles offered the tree to Montres Breguet, who committed to the restoration of Le Petit Trianon in memory of this particularly loyal patron. As the watch neared completion in late 2007, the spoils of the 1983 robbery suddenly reappeared in Jerusalem and the original Marie-Antoinette was part of the recovered lot.

Because Montres Breguet craftsmen are yet to have the opportunity to inspect the recovered watch, they had only the original drawings from the Breguet museum and from other key institutions such as the Museum des Art et Metiers in Paris to go by in order to re-create this masterpiece, so by any measure the Marie Antoinette re-make was a formidable task and a remarkable accomplishment.

Breguet. The spirit is alive and the story continues.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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