Table of Contents
Born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Abraham-Louis Breguet is born on 10 January 1747 in the Swiss town Neuchâtel (German Neuenburg, formerly Neufchâtel), which then belongs to the Kingdom of Prussia.
He completes an apprenticeship with his stepfather Joseph Tattet in Neuchâtel and from about 1763 in Versailles. He then works in Paris, probably with Ferdinand Berthoud and Jean Antoine Lépine, before he opens his own workshop there in about 1775. Initially the focus is on the finissage of foreign ebauche movements, but soon follows the production of pocket watches with his own movements, in the style of Lépine.
In 1784 he is accepted into the guild as a master watchmaker and in 1785 he becomes purveyor of King Louis XVI. After the beginning of the revolution, in 1793, Breguet fled from France back to Neuchâtel. During a stay in London, contacts were made to the chronometer maker John Arnold, from which developed a friendship. In 1795 he returned to Paris.
In 1808 his son Louis enters the firm as a partner and continues it after Breguet's death. Since then the manufacture is named „Breguet et fils“.
Significant inventions which make watch history
In addition to plenty of quality and also highly complicated pocket watches we owe to Breguet also many important inventions, such as the improvement of the automatic winding (1780), the free escapement “échappement naturel”, the “Parachute” shock protection of the balance staff (1790), the ruby cylinder escapement, the tourbillon (1801), and the bent terminal curve of the flat hairspring - later named Breguet hairspring after him (1795).
For the sister of Napoleon I. and Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat, Breguet built a watch that could be worn on the wrist, and thus created probably the first wristwatch in the world. It was ordered in 1810, paid for in 1811 and delivered in 1812 a very thin, oblong watch with repetition, additionally equipped with a thermometer and connected with a bracelet of hair, in which a golden thread that was woven in. Caroline later bought another twelve of watches from Breguet (including eight more with repetition) and thus enabled him to experience an important economic upswing.
Abraham-Louis Breguet died on 17 September 1823. The funeral took place one day later at the cemetery Père Lachaise.
The watch manufacturer Breguet
The spirit of Breguet lives on today in the high-quality watches, which are manufactured at the Breguet Montres SA named after him, because the appearance of these watches has still the same basic features, based on Abraham-Louis Breguet classic, often guilloche dial with Roman numerals, Breguet hands and cannellated case in solid gold. Not to mention the top quality, which puts the models available today into the class of the most expensive watches.
- Breguet. Meisterwerke klassischer Uhrmacherkunst; Authors Osvaldo Patrizzi, Madeleine Patrizzi, Jean-Claude Sabrier; ISBN 3766710168
- Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World; Author Baillie, G. H.; ISBN 140679113X
- Die Taschenuhrsammlung von Gerd Ahrens. Authors Christian Pfeiffer-Belli, Peter Frieß, Josef M. Stadl, Wolf Brüggemann, Norbert Enders; Gestaltung Birgit Binner; ISBN 3766716689 or ISBN 978-3766716682
- Das ZEITGEFÜHL-Uhrenbuch; Author Gerd-Lothar Reschke; ISBN 3-938607-61-0