With Breguet Certificat no. 4244 dated 25 March 2004 confirming production of the present watch in 1929 and its subsequent sale to Monsieur Jean Dollfus on 28 February 1934 for the amount of 11,000 Francs.
This watch is the first Breguet wristwatch ever made with instantaneous perpetual calendar and most probably the first wristwatch ever with a perpetual calendar, not using a converted pocketwatch movement. The perpetual calendar, a very complex mechanism with around 100 parts, is made even more complicated by adding the instantaneous "jump" system, which, with a single lever, advances all calendar functions at the same moment. The manufacture of such a system for the considerably small movement of a wristwatch requires an extraordinarily high standard of workmanship.
The only other pre-war wristwatch featuring an instantaneous perpetual calendar with leap year indicator known to exist to date was made by Patek Philippe in 1925, however fitted with a movement originally designed for a lady's pendant watch (see Patek Philippe Wristwatches by M. Huber & A. Banbery, first edition p. 213, second edition p. 280, originally sold to Thomas Emery - see also lot 247 in this auction - now on permanent exhibition at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva).
Jean-Jacques or Jean Dollfus and his brother Louis were descendants of the prominent Dollfus family of industrialists and founders of a textile manufacture specialized in needlework (today DMC Dollfus Mieg & Cie., originally founded in 1746 in Mulhouse, France).
Jean was born in Paris in 1884, Louis in 1901, the brothers attended the Ecole Alsacienne in Paris. Both were passionate watch collectors and regular clients of Breguet, their collections included mostly highly complicated pocket watches with the exception of the present unique wristwatch.
According to the engraved inscription on the back of the present watch, it was given to Louis by his brother Jean for his "500 flying hours", a number after which a pilot is considered being "experienced". Louis, an engineer and sportsman, was one of the first holders of a pilot license in France. He owned the first hydroplane in the country as well as a Morane-Saulnier MS.230 aircraft which was the main elementary trainer for the French Armée de l'Air throughout the 1930s. As an avid sports car collector and driver he participated at the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in 1926.
The wristwatch offered here for sale is an exceptional example of the elegance of an Art Deco style case combined with the highly complex instantaneous perpetual calendar, the still today stylish look of the Breguet numerals and a fascinating provenance. It must be considered one of the most important vintage wristwatches ever made by the celebrated house of Breguet.
Other watches known to date sold by Breguet to Jean and Louis Dollfus include the following, listed after the sale dates:
No. 4420 sold to Jean Dollfus on 12 July 1922 for 6,500 Francs:
An 18K gold two train openface perpetual calendar keyless lever watch with phases of the moon, retrograde date indication, independent fly-forward chronograph and jumping 1/5ths of a second
No. 472 sold to Louis Dollfus on 31 May 1924 for 10,500 Francs:
An 18K gold openface centre seconds pocket chronometer with spring detent escapement and Guillaume balance
Sold in this saleroom on 12 May 2008, lot 90.
No. 680 sold to Jean Dollfus on 19 February 1926 for 13,500 Francs:
An 18K gold hunter case two train minute repeating keyless lever chronometer clockwatch with grande and petite sonnerie
Sold in this saleroom on 15 November 2004, lot 231.
No. 1285 sold to Jean Dollfus on 25 August 1926 for 10,000 Francs:
An 18K white gold "Chronoscope" or "Wandering Hour" keyless lever dress watch
No. 2940 sold to Jean Dollfus on 25 February 1928:
A silver astronomical, calendar and alarm carriage timepiece
Sold at Christie's, London, on 24 November 1993, lot 39.
No. 4344 sold to Louis Dollfus on 26 March 1929 for 6,000 Francs:
An extra flat platinum openface keyless lever dress watch
No. 2170 sold to Louis Dollfus on 30 April 1929 for 6,500 Francs:
An 18K gold openface split seconds chronograph keyless lever watch with tachometer scale and instantaneous 60 minutes register
No. 1389 sold to Jean Dollfus on 11 July 1927 for 25,000 Francs:
An 18K gold openface keyless one minute tourbillon watch
Sold in this saleroom on 18 May 1998, lot 115.
No. 2516, the present wristwatch, sold to Jean Dollfus on 28 February 1934 for 11,000 Francs:
A unique 18K white gold wristwatch with instantaneous perpetual calendar and phases of the moon.