Breguet. An extremely fine, large and rare 18K gold openface "montre simple" lever watch with two barrels, made on the principles of the "garde temps"
Breguet. An extremely fine, large and rare 18K gold openface "montre simple" lever watch with two barrels, made on the principles of the "garde temps"


Breguet. An extremely fine, large and rare 18K gold openface "montre simple" lever watch with two barrels, made on the principles of the "garde temps"
Signed Breguet, No. 4265, case no. 250, sold to Monsieur Divoff on 14 January 1825
Cal. 22''' gilt-finished fully jewelled movement with long lever, two separately wound gold barrels with female winding squares, bimetallic compensation balance with parachute on the top pivot, the silver engine-turned dial with Roman numerals on eccentric blank chapter ring, gold Breguet hands, regulator below 6 o'clock, in large, slim engine-turned case, the inside snap on back with an engraved Cyrillic inscription, case numbered 4265 B and 250 and stamped with casemaker's initials JLJ for Jean-Louis Joly, dial signed Breguet et Fils
56 mm. diam.
The Art of Breguet, Habsburg Geneva 14 April 1991, lot 80.

Lot Essay

Accompanied by Breguet Certificate No. 3896 dated 14 April 1991 and copies from sales-/workbook confirming the sale of the present watch with two barrels on 14 January 1825 to Monsieur Divoff for the, at the time, enormous amount of Francs 2,400.

This watch combines several highly unusual and rare features, especially for a "montre simple" or "time only" model:

A movement of highest quality based on Breguet's "garde temps" principles, a designation used only for his high precision watches generally made for scientific use; two gold barrels, providing uniform power source and hence enhancing accuracy and running time, again a feature commonly found in chronometers for example; a fully jewelled wheel train, another rare feature at the time even in one of Breguet's watches. Another noteworthy element are the two small gold plates attached to the barrel bridges, an ingenious system allowing the closing of the winding holes in the back of the case when turning the back, hence protecting the movement from dirt and humidity infiltration.

Breguet's "montres simple" did not have any other complications to the movement but could have minor additions to the dial, phases of the moon or regulators for example. They were in general made in three categories, "troisième classe", "seconde classe" and, such as the present watch, "première classe sur les principes des chronomètres", made to the highest standards and with fully jewelled movements, lever escapements and compensation balances. Only a limited series of these precision watches however were made with two barrels.

Only few examples of these early simple watches have survived and, compared to the number of other types made, their production was limited. At the time, repeating watches enjoyed a much higher popularity as they could be used in the dark.

Combining a highly rare movement with a large and slim case preserved in excellent, original condition, the present watch represents a highly desirable collector's item.

For a comparable twin barrel "Precision pocket timepiece", No. 4004 made in 1823, see Watches & Clocks in the Sir David Salomons Collection by George Daniels & Ohannes Markarian, pp. 66 & 67, inv. WA 72-71, pl. 29, 29a&b.

Monsieur Divoff
Little information is available on the first owner of this unusual watch but it appears that Mr. Petr Adrianovitch Divoff (? - 1850) was enlisted in the Preobrajenski Regiment (a Foot Guard Regiment of the Russian Empire) in 1787. He became an examiner at the Royal College and Gentleman of the Court. Elected an Adviser to the College in 1821, Chamberlain in 1822 and Counsellor of State in 1824, he retired in 1825. Petr Adianovitch Divoff was a member of the nobility of St. Petersburg and the senior nobility of Moscow. At the time of his death, his estates in the district of Vologda comprised nearly 5200 hectares.
Monsieur Divoff was one of Breguet's faithful clients though as in addition to the present watch, he also owned an exceptionally fine 20K gold "Garde Temps" jump hour hand quarter repeating watch, No. 4144, sold to him on 15 April 1833 for the amount of Francs 3600.

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