Presented for the first time with a natural mother-of-pearl dial, the Classique 9068 emphasises the style of Breguet’s watchmaking art. Abraham-Louis Breguet set up a business in Paris in 1775. He was opposed to the baroque style then in vogue, lending his creations a surprising and pleasing sobriety.
The Breguet style – neoclassical and characterised by mechanical reliability – attracted prestigious clients, including Queen Marie-Antoinette, and later the Empresses Joséphine and Marie-Louise, as well as the Duchess of Wellington. Reflecting that same quest for simplicity, the dial of the new Classique model comes alive with white mother-of-pearl on a fine rose or white gold case.
To add to the splendour, 88 brilliant-cut diamonds illuminate the gold of the bezel and lugs of the bracelet. The model beats to the rhythm of a self-winding manufacture caliber with the essential functions – the second hand in the centre and the date window at 3 o’clock.
BIRTH OF A STYLE IN PARIS
As a young watchmaker from Switzerland, Abraham-Louis Breguet moved to Paris, setting up his workshop on the Quai de l’Horloge in 1775. That location – close to the district of goldsmiths, dial-makers, and manufacturers of hands and cases – proved to be an ideal setting for him to practise his craft. The City of Lights was where he was able to fully express his talent.
Even today many places bear witness to the presence of Abraham-Louis Breguet and that of his descendants. Rue Breguet is a street named after him to pay tribute to his watchmaking genius, and his name, along with other famous names, is inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. The Breguet Museum at Place Vendôme, the Musée des Arts et des Métiers, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and the Louvre exhibit many of Breguet’s creations.
Watch No 3023, a small, quarter-repeating watch sold to the Duchess of Wellington in 1817, is on display at the Louvre. Two centuries later, the same style continues to inspire the Classique line of Breguet. In 1783, for example, Abraham-Louis Breguet designed slender, open-tipped hands for improved readability. These characteristic hands are found on the dial of the Breguet Classique 9068 – blued or in rose gold, depending on the model. Always concerned with improving readability, Breguet chose to use Roman hour markers. A guillochage border, a specialty of the House of Breguet, subtly highlights the hours chapter.
Finally, the dial also displays the name Breguet, as well as the individual number of the watch. The owner of the watch can have her name added to the Breguet register, which was started in the 1780s and has been updated continuously since, together with the description of her watch.
A PERPETUAL CALIBER
The Breguet Classique 9068 watch is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, the 591A. This caliber, which is wound up by wrist movement, is in line with the self-winding watches developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet. At the time, several watchmakers were looking to solve the issue of automatic winding. Breguet was the first to find a reliable technical solution when he developed the oscillating weight.
The sapphire-crystal caseback of the new model reveals this ingenious component: in rose or white gold, depending on the model, and hand-engraved on a rose engine. Thanks to the talent of the artisans of the House of Breguet, experts in anglage, circular graining, and the Côtes de Genève, the caliber has been entirely decorated.
The watch movement fits into a delicate case with fluted sides in the Breguet style. The crown – capped with a blue cabochon-cut sapphire or a ruby – is also fluted to ensure a better grip. The leather bracelet is secured by lugs, welded for strength and curved for wearing comfort.
With elegant simplicity, the Breguet Classique 9068 embodies the Breguet style. An inimitable hallmark, as Henry Murger observed in his 1848 book Les Scènes de la vie de Bohème (Scenes of Bohemian Life):
Rodolphe found Mademoiselle Laure at the trysting place.
Good, said he, for punctuality she is a feminine Breguet.
• This article was paid for by Breguet.