The History of Swiss Watch Company Breguet

The History of Breguet, Part 1

Breguet has a history spanning four centuries, a history so rich in inventions and innovations that it plays an integral role in the history of watchmaking.

With so many historical events surrounding Breguet, we will be able to trace its path from its origins to the present day in two articles.

The name of the brand, Breguet, comes from its founder, Abraham-Louis Breguet, who was born on January 10, 1747 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Breguet in his younger years Breguet in his younger years

Neuchâtel in the 18th century
Neuchâtel in the 18th century

His ancestors were French and Protestant, so he moved to Switzerland in 1685. In fact, with the repeal of the Edict of Nantes, violent persecution of Protestants broke out again in France.

Despite being forbidden to leave the country, 400,000 Protestants - including Breguet - fled France for fear of their lives.

His father, Jonah Louis, died when he was 11. Shortly thereafter, his mother, Suzanne Marguerite, remarried her husband's cousin, Joseph Tattet, a watchmaker.

In 1762, his new father Thatet took Breguet to Paris – a city in the midst of a period of relatively mild Protestant persecution – where he was apprenticed to a watchmaker (name not preserved) at Versailles.

France and Switzerland just before the French Revolution
France and Switzerland just before the French Revolution
After training under a watchmaker in Versailles, he went on to work for two of the most successful watchmakers of the time, such as Ferdinand Berthoud.

Mathematics proved essential to his work, so Breguet undertook further study by taking evening classes at Mazarine University under Ave Mari.

Breguet was able to look after his sister despite the hardships of losing his mother, stepfather, and his mentor Marie in a short space of time. Finally, in 1775, he produced the No. 39, on his own. He completed the work, Quai de l'Horloge , on the Île de la Cité, near Notre Dame Cathedral on an island in the Seine. He was 28 years old at the time.

Breguet's Workshop
Breguet's Workshop, Quai de l'Horloge, Paris
Quai de l'Horloge, Paris
The Quai de l'Horloge today , Paris

That same year, he married Cécile Marie-Louise Lhuillier, the daughter of a founding Parisian bourgeois family, and part of her dowry probably went towards making watches.

With Ave Mari's guidance, Breguet soon received its first orders from members of the upper classes, including automatic watches such as the "Duc d'Orléans" in 1780 and the "Marie Antoinette" in 1782.

His self-winding or "perpetual" watches created a great deal of excitement at Versailles and throughout Europe. Although Breguet was not the first to make a self-winding watch, most experts agree that he was the first truly reliable and effective watch.

Examples of Breguet "Perpetual" Watches
The clocks above and below are examples of Breguet's "perpetual" clocks, which are driven by the weight of a pendulum, a spring, which returns after each movement, pushing up two barrels and stopping when the springs are pushed up sufficiently.

Breguet's "Perpetual" Watches

Breguet watches achieved rapid success not only for the quality of their internal mechanisms but also for their design. Consider just the hands of the watches he designed in 1783. Made of gold or blued steel, they are decorated with unusual circular patterns with holes, which add an attractive elegance to the watch. The success of Breguet's hands is instantaneous, as evidenced by the fact that the term "Breguet hands" was soon included in the watchmaking vocabulary.

Breguet Watch Hands

He used a white enamel plate for the dial, with typical Arabic numerals slightly tilted to the right, or a guilloche pattern, i.e. a reception pattern engraved on the dial using a manual turning. This guilloche pattern was not only decorative, but also served to reduce the glare of the metal dial.

Guilloché dial
Guilloché dial "Breguet pocket watch" 1783

In 1783, Breguet received a commission from one of Marie Antoinette's guards to make a watch as a gift for Queen Marie Antoinette, one of his watch's most ardent fans. The watch for the queen had to have all the functions known at the time. The commission had no delivery deadline or cost limit. The watch was completed in 1827, 44 years after the order was received and 34 years after Marie Antoinette's death. However, the result is considered by many watch experts to be the most important watch ever made for technical, aesthetic and historical reasons. Read more about the special watch, Breguet No. 160 "Marie Antoinette" here.

Marie Antoinette
"Marie Antoinette"

Other notable inventions of later years were the "Gonspring" (1783), a clock that struck a bell instead of a bell, followed by the "Parachute" (1790), or "elastic suspension" clock (as Breguet sometimes called it), a clock with a shock-resistant construction that made the clock more durable and resistant to shocks.

Minute repeater watch "Gonspring"

On the right is the minute repeater watch "Gonspring " and on the right is the "Parachute" which incorporates a structure to protect against shocks.

Breguet worked alone until 1787, when he made a partnership with Xavier Guidot, a dealer in clocks and watches, with whom Breguet gained further access to trade.

Although unsuccessful in 1791, this partnership was very important in the history of Breguet, as it provided the company with archival records of sales and factory costs, providing invaluable information.

Breguet Watch Sales Record

As an example, for automatic watches, records show that Breguet sold 60 "Parachutes" between 1787 and 1823, and since there are no records for the years between 1780 and 1787, we can assume that between 20 and 30 watches were produced during that period.

However, this was a very dangerous time, as the storm of the French Revolution was rapidly approaching, especially for those close to the nobility and royal family.

By good fortune, Breguet became close friends with a revolutionary leader named Jean-Paul Marats, whose sister, Albertine, made watch hands for the watchmaker, and legend has it that Breguet rescued Marats from an angry mob that had gathered outside the home of a mutual acquaintance.

When Marat learned that Breguet was facing execution by guillotine, he arranged for Breguet to leave Paris and travel safely to Geneva, and then he moved to a place called Le Locle, where he set up a small workshop with a few employees.

In 1795, with the political situation in France now stable, Breguet returned to Paris, only to find his workshop destroyed. His friends, especially the Choisrouprasand family, helped him to re-establish his company on the Quai de l'Horloge.

The army and navy were in dire need of reliable watches, so Breguet's return was welcomed: the company was compensated for time lost during the terror and exempted from military service to hasten the rebuilding of its factories.

Although Breguet's years in exile were a serious setback for his work, he nevertheless used his time to develop a number of exceptional ideas and inventions which were soon recorded to have great success in the following years.

His technical and stylistic talents were not the only ones he excelled at; he was also a good businessman. As an example, in 1797, Breguet created one of the most famous pocket watches, the "Sousscription". Introduced in 1797, this watch had a large central barrel with a very simple custom movement and was sold on an advance basis, with a quarter of the watch price paid at the time of order (hence the name "Sousscription"). The "Sousscription" was a great success, and many different models were made, with different dials and gold and silver cases.

Subscription No.542
Breguet watch with subscription No. 542, diameter 62 mm, silver case, gold fillets and enamel dial Subscription No.1391

Breguet watch with subscription No.1391, diameter 57 mm, gold case and gold engine-turned dial

In the late 1790s, Breguet invented the "Montre à Tact", or "Tactful watch" in English.

In addition to the traditional method of opening the watch case, looking at the face and telling the time, the wearer could now check the time in the dark by rotating his hand or an arrow on the outside of the case clockwise until he felt it stop. Thanks to the knobs used to mark the hours around the case, one could feel which way the arrow was pointing and thus get an approximation of the correct time.

Breguet No.608 Cylinder Watch Medallion Montre à Tact
Breguet No. 608, cylinder watch 'Medallion Montre à Tact', sold to Mr. Bastreche in 1800 for 3000 francs. Hunter case in pink gold, enamel and diamonds.

The "a tact" structure allowed upper class people to tell the time without taking a watch out of their pocket and without getting annoyed or irritated. And in fact, another meaning of the French word "tact" is "sensitive to other things" (hence the English words "tact" and "tactful").

On June 26, 1801, the President of France granted Breguet a ten-year patent for the invention of the regulator clock.

Breguet's Letter to the President of France

The letter that Breguet wrote to the President of France describing his invention is quite interesting.

Minister of Citizens

I have the honor of presenting to you detailed notes of a new invention, an instrument for measuring time which I have named Regulator à Tourbillon. I am requesting a ten year patent on the construction of these clocks.

I have accomplished this by an invention which removes the errors arising from the difference in position of the center of gravity, and by distributing the friction equally to all parts of the regulator pivot and the axis of the bore in which it rotates, by means of a thick oil which always maintains the smoothness of the contact points, and by eliminating many other errors which affect the accuracy of the movement, large or small, in a way which is far beyond the present knowledge of our art, even by infinite trial and error.

It is after carefully considering all the advantages, including the skill in perfecting the method of manufacture, and the considerable expenses incurred in achieving success, that I have decided to apply for a patent. In order to establish the time of my invention and to compensate myself for the expenses incurred, I have decided to seek a patent.



Thanks to his deep understanding of the laws of physics, Breguet noticed how the watch was affected by changes in its position; the changes were most noticeable when the watch was held in a vertical position, since pocket watches were almost always kept in a vest pocket. He realized that the main reason for this behavior was crucial. Gravity could not be eliminated, but he thought it could be compensated for by placing a regulating device (a spring balance) and an escapement in a mobile carriage that rotated completely around its own axis once per minute.

Breguet watch blueprint

His invention not only improved the accuracy of the pocket chronometer, but also created one of Breguet's most prized and desirable watches. You can read more about the history of the Tourbillon here.
Breguet No. 2567 Tourbillon Pocket Watch
Breguet No. 2567 Tourbillon Pocket Watch with Breguet's signature engine-turned silver dial and Roman numerals, blued steel Breguet hands - 1812

In 1807, Breguet took on his son Anthony-Louis (born 1776) as a full partner, from that point on the firm became known as "Breguet & Fils". As for the commercial side of the business, following the death of his wife in 1780, his sister-in-law Suzanne Lillier took charge.

Immersed in watchmaking from his early childhood, Anthony Louis quickly acquired great skill: he was trained in Paris by his father and in London by the great English chronometer maker and friend John Arnold.

In the last few years, Breguet experienced rapid growth abroad, especially in Russia, where he opened a branch in St. Petersburg in 1808. Unfortunately, he was forced to close the shop three years later when Tsar Alexander I banned French goods from entering Russia as a response to Napoleon's policies.

Breguet's Letter to Lazare Moreau
A letter from Breguet to Lazare Moreau, who was in charge of the St. Petersburg branch.

Napoleon himself was a good patron of Breguet and purchased many of Breguet's clocks, including the "Pandure Sympathique" among others. Napoleon would sometimes visit the Breguet workshops incognito.

Caroline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon and wife of Joachim Murat, King of Naples, was one of Breguet's most important clients, purchasing 34 clocks and watches from 1808 to 1814.

Carolyn Murat, Queen of Naples
Carolyn Murat Queen of Naples

In 1810, at the request of the Queen of Naples, Breguet conceived and created the first known wristwatch: No. 2639, a very thin, oval-shaped, complex repeater watch attached to a hair band or golden thread.

No sketch of its appearance remains in the archives, but fortunately it was left in the repair register of the after-sales service. On 8 March 1849, No. 2639 was sent for repair at the request of Countess Rasponi, who lived at 63, rue d'Anjou. The Countess was none other than Louise Murat, the fourth and last child of Joachim and Caroline. She had married Count Gyullio Rasponi in 1825.
Breguet's success brought him wealth. He produced 17,000 watches in his lifetime. Nevertheless, he always lived a simple life. He was known to be a kind and humorous person. Among the accolades he received throughout his life, Abraham Louis Breguet was officially recognized by King Louis XVIII as chronometer maker to the French Royal Navy. This award, perhaps the most prestigious award a watchmaker could wish for, included the concept of marine time measurement based on scientific knowledge. It was also important for the country, as marine time measurement was of major importance to the fleet, allowing the calculation of the position of ships at sea. In 1816, Breguet became a member of the French Scientific Society. And in 1819, he received the Legion of Honor from the hands of King Louis XVIII.
Portrait of Abraham-Louis Breguet, 1816

Portrait of Abraham-Louis Breguet, who became a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1816

On September 17, 1823, Breguet suddenly died at the age of 77. The founder's only son, Anthony-Louis Breguet, took over the company and continued in the footsteps of his father, maintaining the top quality that made the Breguet brand famous all over the world.

The History of Breguet, Part 2

After the death of Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1823, his only son, Antoine-Louis Breguet (1776-1858) - himself a highly talented watchmaker - continued to grow and expand the company.
The Breguet brand continued to maintain top quality and innovation: among the inventions of this period we can mention the first keyless winding watch, the Sympathique watch.
The clock No. 4952 was made for Count Charles de Lespin in 1830. It had a button with a serrated edge that served two purposes: to keep the hands still and to wind the clock. It gave birth to the modern wind-up clock.
However, Antoine-Louis failed to patent the mechanism, and ten years later a well-known Genevan watch company successfully patented a similar invention.

Breguet No. 4288 Half Quarter Repeating Watch

Breguet No. 4288, Half-quarter Repeating Watch with Winding, 1830

In 1834 the "Sympathique" clock was created. It was based on a principle developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1793. Its ingenious patented mechanism allowed a pocket watch to be set automatically when placed in the recess at the top of the table clock.

Breguet "Sympathique"

Breguet's "Sympatique" watch, with a gold-plated frame housing a precision escapement, displayed the date, month, day of the week, moon phase, time difference, and Celsius thermometer.

Owning a Breguet watch signified wealth and success. A recognized status symbol, the Breguet name has appeared many times in world literature with several watches. Below are just a few examples.

"Breguet produces watches that will not break even after 20 years, while on the other hand there are poor machines that break down at least once a week." 1817 Stendahl (1783-1842) "Rome, Naples, and Florence"

“A dandy in the boulevard (…) strolling in his leisure time to his Breguet hour, vigilant , recalls him, it was midday.
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) 1825-1833 , Eugene Oegin       
" He drew the most deliciously thin watch Breguet had ever made. A whimsical and free-spirited fantasy: eleven o'clock, I was a count. "
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) 1833 "Eugénie Grandet"

" A fine gold chain hung from the pocket of his vest, revealing only a flat watch. He was playing with the "latchet" watch that Breguet had just invented . "
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) 1842 La Lobuilleuse

" Danglars' watch, a Breguet creation, had been carefully wound the previous day and struck the chimes of half past five in the morning.
    Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) 1844 "The Count of Monte Cristo"   

" Sometimes the heart plays tricks on us and disappoints us. It is right to be vigilant. God (the great Breguet) gave us faith and, because it was good, he improved it with a watchful eye."
Victor Hugo (1802-1885) 1865 "Song of the Town and the Forest"

Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland, purchased a Breguet watch in July 1838, the year after she ascended to the throne. The watch was registered No. 5102 as "a very small and simple watch, without any repeater for striking, very thin."

The famous Italian composer Gioachino Rossini - one of the most famous people of his time - owned Breguet watch No. 4604. The watch was simple, modest in size and design, with a date display. It featured an engine-turned gold case, an off-center silver dial and an escapement lever. After his death, in 1868, his widow kept the watch. There are no photographs of these watches, but fortunately we can learn more about them from the Breguet archives.

Breguet No. 4961 Half-quarter Repeater Pocket Watch

Breguet No. 4961: An exceptionally flat half-quarter repeater pocket watch. With perpetual calendar, moon phase, time difference and power indicators. Sold to Lord Henry Seymour Conway in 1831. One of the most complicated watches Breguet ever made. Housed in a very slim case (only 7.7 mm thick). This historic watch was purchased at auction in 2013 for 1 million Swiss francs .

In 1833, when he was 57 years old, Antoine-Louis decided to retire from his workshop in Le Buisson near Paris, handing over the business to his son Louis-Clément, who distinguished himself in scientific studies.

Louis-Clément François Breguet (1804-1883) was 19 years old when his famous grandfather, Abraham-Louis, died. After apprenticing to the watchmaking skills of Perrelet in Versailles, he went to Switzerland to work as a watchmaker and gain experience in the Swiss method. With him, Breguet started the parallel production of standardized and individualized products.

Louis Clément formed a partnership with one of his relatives and renamed the company "Breguet, Neuve et Cie."

A complex quarter repeating watch without a cover

A complex quarter repeating watch without a cover, with a moon phase inscribed "Breguet Neuveaux et Cie" . Slightly larger than a euro coin, this 37mm watch was sold to the Russian Princess Katherine Bageration in 1829. It was rumoured to be a gift for her husband, Colonel Cadlac. Her marriage soon ended and the watch was returned to Breguet in 1830. In 1835 , it was resold to Nathaniel de Rothschild, a well-known businessman, banker and owner of the winemaking company founded by Château Mouton Rothschild.

Louis Clement optimized the manufacturing processes – at this time they were producing around 350 clocks a year – but diversified into scientific, electrical and telegraph instruments.

In particular, in 1842 he developed the electric stylus to replace the optical telegraph system then in use. In recognition of his work in the development of the electric stylus, Louis-Clément Breguet was awarded the Hall of Fame in 1845. He won the highest awards at all exhibitions in the world, was appointed a member of the Bureau des Longitudes (1852), and was elected to the Academie des Sciences in 1874.

Louis Clement Francois Brequet

Louis Clement Francois Breguet

He is one of 72 French scientists, engineers and mathematicians whose names are inscribed on the base of the Eiffel Tower.

A great passion for physics, and the shared interests of his son Antoine (1851-1882), led Louis-Clément to enter the business of making electrical devices for telegraphy, railway signalling and physiology, which led to him achieving outstanding success in the field of electronics.

As a result, on 8 May 1870, the watch division was sold to an English factory manager called Edward Brown, who in the meantime became a partner in the company.

Antoine, the great-grandson of the great Abraham-Louis, was the last Breguet family member to remain in the business. In fact, he had two sons and a daughter who were not involved in the business. He died at the age of 31.

Since the electrical equipment business used the name "Breguet F.T.", meaning "Breguet Fabricon", the watch business simply became "Breguet".

By 1881, the watch business was restructured under the name Maison Breguet, with Edward taking the lead in ensuring high quality and targeting an international elite.

Edward Brown died in 1895 at the age of 66, so the company was passed on to his sons Edward and Henry, with Henry becoming president in the early 1900s upon Edward's retirement.

During this period, David Lionel Goldsmid Stern Salomon (1851-1925) – a versatile scientist, lawyer, English baron and nephew of London's first Jewish pastor – identified himself as a Breguet watch collector.

His book "Breguet (1747-1823)" remains today one of the most highly regarded books on the work of Breguet and his many timepieces.

David's book "Breguet (1747-1823)"

Upon his death in 1925, Salomon left 57 Breguet watches to his daughter, Vera Brisse (1888-1969), including the famous No. 160 "Marie Antoinette". The others were passed on to his wife.

Breguet No. 160 Marie Antoinette

Breguet No. 160 “Marie Antoinette”

After World War I, Vera moved to Jerusalem and became a philanthropist: after the death of her mentor, Leo A. Meyer, president of the University of Jerusalem, she created the L.A. Meyer Institute for Islamic Art and donated her prized clock to the museum for exhibition in its gallery.

Over 106 precious watches, including the “Marie Antoinette,” were stolen in 1983 and donated again more than 20 years later. This fascinating story is detailed in the following article:

In 1927, Henry's son, George Brown, took over the business, applying the skills he had inherited from his father.

He expanded the range of watches he produced to include aviation watches, such as the legendary "Type 20" (or "Type XX") wristwatch chronograph, developed to meet technical specifications: a pilot's watch issued by the French Ministry of War in 1950 that later became part of the standard equipment of the Air Force and the Naval Aviation.

Along with accuracy (+/- 8 seconds per day) and reliability, the Type 20 featured a black dial, a flyback chronograph function, and a power reserve of at least 35 hours.

However, Breguet was not only a purveyor of these, but was also a leader in this style of watch.

For more on the interesting history of the Type 20, see this article.

Breguet "Type 20"

Breguet Type 20 for the French Ministry of War
It has a rotating bezel with only two registers and a small arrow. Circa 1955 .

And it can certainly be said that Breguet's connection with the global aviation industry was a special one. In fact, Louis-Charles Breguet (1880-1955), grandson of the great and legendary Abraham-Louis, was one of the early pioneers of aviation, founding the Compagnie des Messages Aériennes in 1919, associated with Air France.

A few decades later, in 1970, George Brown sold it to Chaumet, a Parisian jewelry house founded in 1780 on Place Vendôme, which continued until the time of Jacques and Pierre Chaumet.

The Brown family ran Breguet for 100 years (1870-1970), longer than the Breguet family (1775-1870).
In 1975, British watchmaker George Daniel published "The Art of Breguet", the definitive history of the father of modern horology and his work. In the 1960s, before creating his own brand, Daniel was considered a renowned Breguet expert. His friend George Brown bestowed upon him the name "The House of Breguet of Paris".

George Daniel "The Art of Breguet"

Back to the brand, in 1976, under Chaumet, Breguet moved its workshop to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, where Swiss watchmaking was born and where it was much easier to recruit skilled watchmakers than in Paris. The technical department hired Daniel Roth, a well-known watch enthusiast, as the master watchmaker.

This was a difficult period for mechanical watch producers, as they faced the so-called quartz crisis and Chaumet suffered heavy losses in its diamond prospecting and resale business after a global price drop. As a result, in 1987, Chaumet was acquired by Investcorp.LA, a Bahrain-based investment bank.

Some famous watches were born during these years, including the Tourbillon watch in 1988 and the Perpetual Calendar Equation of Time in 1991.

Perpetual Calendar & Equation of Time 1991

Perpetual Calendar and Equation of Time 1991

Investcorp continued to restructure the company and in 1991, it acquired Valder SA, a Swiss company involved in the production and supply of micro-mechanical components for the watch industry, and incorporated it into the newly created Groupe Horloger Breguet (GHB).
In 1992, they also acquired movement manufacturer Nouvelle Lemania S.A., known for making superb chronograph movements for many brands, including the Omega Speedmaster, and they made Breguet watches in the same way that Nouvelle Lemania made the highest specification watches for other top watch brands.

Breguet's New Romanian Factory

The Nouvelle Romania factory in Lorient, in the Jouvre Valley.
Today, it is Breguet's main factory (see photo at the bottom of the article).

In 1998, Groupe Horloger Breguet (GHB) was profitable again with revenues of 280 million Swiss francs and an expansion into the Southeast Asian market. During Investcorp's ownership, sales increased tenfold.

On September 14, 1999, the Swatch Group announced that it would acquire Loup Horloger Breguet from Investcorp SA, adding Breguet to its 15 brands - just as it had done with Blancpain, Omega and Longines.

Swatch's industrial and commercial strength gave it all the material and technical resources necessary to develop exceptional models to meet the expectations of the brand's fans and most demanding enthusiasts. The brand had the manufacturing facilities it wanted right from the start. It focused on hiring top watchmakers who had trained a new generation in art and craftsmanship. Nicolas G. Hajek, president of the Swatch Group, considered his brand the jewel of kings. He agreed with what David Lionel Salomon said in 1921: "For those who understand the mechanism, a Breguet watch is a painting." It was only natural to create the Breguet Museum. Inaugurated on September 13, 2000, it displays precious documents and items related to the history of the Maison. The museum is currently located on the first floor of the Breguet boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris and is led by Emmanuel Breguet, a direct descendant of the seventh generation of Abraham-Louis.

The Breguet Museum

A Sample of the Breguet Archives

The Breguet archives cover two centuries and include production registers, repair books, certificates of authenticity, customer letters, technical notes written by Abraham-Louis Breguet, and of course the rare watches that the company continues to produce every year.

A brilliant marketer, Hayek arranged a special celebration to mark 200 years since the tourbillon's patent date, with a big party held in Versailles in 2001. As a result of Breguet's intense marketing efforts, sales of Breguet tourbillons increased from 150 in 1999 to over 1,000 in just five years.

Grand Complication Tourbillon

Grande Complication Tourbillon 1801-2001, issued in 2001 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the tourbillon patent

Taking notice of this new trend in the watch market, other luxury watch manufacturers followed Breguet's path by adding tourbillon watches to their collections, bringing clear benefits to the entire watch industry.

Marie Antoinette replica, No. 1160 and Nicolas Hayek

Nicolas Hayek proudly displays his Breguet No. 160 , a replica of the 2008 "Marie Antoinette," and No. 1160. He also wears two Breguet watches and one Omega watch on his wrist.

The brand was finally in an ideal situation to perpetuate the innovative dynamism of its founder Abraham-Louis. This is evidenced by the exceptional number of patents registered - 120 since 2002! - under the leadership of Nicolas G. Hajek and later his grandson Marc. In 2006, Breguet achieved a major leap in watchmaking technology by introducing various important mechanical parts to silicon. Silicon has magnetic attraction and impact, as well as being corrosion and wear-resistant. It is lighter and harder than steel, reduces inertia, does not require lubrication, and best of all, it offers geometric freedom, i.e. new and complex shapes can be created. The use of silicon for the escape wheel and lever, and in some cases the balance spring, made it possible to increase the frequency of the oscillator. In some watches it reached 72,000 vibrations per hour. This allowed the watches to keep even more precise time.

How the Silicon Lever Works

Silicone lever, escape wheel, balance spring

The introduction of anti-magnetic components opened up a world of new possibilities. In fact, in 2010, Breguet applied for a patent for a magnetic pivot, breaking a horological taboo on magnetism.

Magnetic Pivot

Combining two counter pivots incorporating particularly powerful micro-magnets at either end of the balance bar, this technical innovation allows a dynamic stabiliser to keep the balance bar centred and self-adjusting. In 2012, Breguet gave a first showcase of this remarkable invention with the launch of the Classe Hertz Chronométrie, a watch that delivers exceptional rate results thanks to its balance frequency of 10 Hz.

Breguet Classic Chronometer
Breguet Classique Chronométrie, winner of the Finest Timepiece of the Year award at the Grand Prix de Genève in 2014, Aiguille d’Or” ,

A year later, Breguet again demonstrated their inventive skills with another world first in watchmaking: the invention of the magnetic governor for transmission wheels.

Innovative Strike Governor

Innovative strike governor. Equipped with magnets and working on the principle of eddy currents (Foucault currents) going beyond the classical friction-based strike governor. The interaction between the silver disc and the magnet creates a constant rotation. By avoiding contact between the rotating components and the inner walls, Breguet has managed to eliminate noise and wear.

The "Classique La Musicale" watch was equipped with a highly sophisticated mechanism that ensured greater precision while solving the typical problems of watches: wear, noise and the need for a lot of energy.

Classic La Musicale White Gold

The white gold “Classic La Musicale” chimed in with Rossini’s “The Thieving Magpie T” or Bach’s “La Badinary.”

In 2015, with the Tradition Chronograph Independant 7077, Breguet introduced a smart and innovative technology: two independent manual winding systems, one for the hours and minutes and one for the chronograph.

One advantage of having two entirely separate hand-winding systems was that the movement was completely unaffected when the stopwatch function was started.

This watch also pioneered a new way of supplying energy to the chronograph gear system: in fact, Breguet patented a system that stores the energy needed to run the chronograph when the watch's wearer resets it to zero by pressing the left pusher.

Tradition Chronograph Independent

Tradition Chronograph Independent 7077

More than two centuries of invention and technological advancements have culminated in Breguet's history in a constant pursuit of continuous improvement in horological performance, precision, functionality and design – an attitude that does great tribute to founder Abraham-Louis.

Breguet Factory 1

Breguet Factory 2

Both pictures, above and below, show the Breguet factory in Lorion.

Breguet Factory 3