Breguet. A silver and gold openface split seconds chronograph keyless lever chronometer watch with box
Masterpieces from the workshops of Abraham-Louis Breguet The following five lots, 389 to 393, are superb examples of timepieces made by the workshops of Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) and his successors, widely acknowledged for having set the standard by which all fine watchmaking has been judged ever since. He was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, but it was in Paris that he spent most of his productive life. No aspect of watchmaking escaped his study, and his inventions were as fundamental to horology as they were varied. His career started with a series of breakthroughs: the development of the successful self-winding perpétuelle watches, the introduction of the gongs for repeating watches and the first shock-protection for balance pivots. Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie-Antoinette, were early enthusiasts of Breguet's watchmaking. Each watch from his workshops demonstrated the latest horological improvements in an original movement, mostly fitted with lever or ruby-cylinder escapements that he perfected. Breguet took refuge in Switzerland from the excesses of the French Revolution. He returned to Paris overflowing with the ideas that produced the Breguet balance-spring, his first carriage clock (sold to Bonaparte), the "sympathique" clock and its dependent watch, the tact watch, and finally the tourbillon, patented in 1801. Breguet became the indispensable watchmaker to the scientific, military, financial and diplomatic elites of the age. His timepieces ruled the courts of Europe. For his most celebrated clients, Breguet designed exceptional timepieces. For Caroline Murat, queen of Naples, he conceived in 1810 the world's very first wristwatch. Honours saluted his enormous contribution to horology. Appointed to the Board of Longitude and as chronometer-maker to the navy, he entered the Academy of Sciences and received the Legion of Honour from the hands of Louis XVIII. When he died in 1823, all mourned the architect of the greatest revolution in the science and art of time-keeping.
Breguet. A silver and gold openface split seconds chronograph keyless lever chronometer watch with box


Breguet. A silver and gold openface split seconds chronograph keyless lever chronometer watch with box
Signed Breguet, No. 4330, sold on 16 January 1924 to Count Max de Pourtalés for the sum of 2,000 Francs
Cal. 19''' gilt-finished fully jewelled lever movement stamped with the viper's head, bimetallic compensation balance with gold poising screws, gold cuvette, the white enamel dial with Roman numerals, outer Arabic five minute divisions, blued steel spade hands, two vertical subsidiary dials indicating 60 minutes register and constant seconds, the heavy circular case with ribbed band, the split seconds chronograph mechanism operated through an oval button in the band and through the crown, case and cuvette numbered 60195, cuvette and dial signed and numbered
55 mm. diam.

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Lot Essay

With Breguet original fitted morocco leather-covered box no. 4330.
According to the Archives of Montres Breguet, the present watch, a split seconds chronograph with counter, first class Besançon observatory bulletin and silver case no. 60195 was made in 1920 and sold to Count Max de Pourtalès on 16 January 1924 for the sum of 2,000 Francs.

Count Max De Pourtalès (Max Arthur Hubert de Pourtalès), 1893-1935, was the son of Hubert Louis Edouard Edmond De Pourtalès and Marguerite Malvine Henriette De Schickler, members of an important French noble family.

He was one of the pioneers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race and finished with a 10th place at the debut race in 1923 with his fellow-countryman Vicount Sosthène de la Rochefoucauld on a Bugatti Brescia 16S.

The movement of the present watch is signed with the "Viper's Head", symbol for watches which had successfully passed the chronometer tests in Besançon , the position of this hand-stamped mark indicating the relevant class.

As of the end of the 18th century, Besançon, close to Switzerland, became one of the most important centres of French clock and watchmaking industries. The Astronomical Observatory of Besançon was founded in 1882 to support the growing local watchmaking industry and renowned manufacturers such as Breguet submitted their precision movements for chronometer contests.

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