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Breguet No. 4420 "Montre simple plate à deux cadrans excentriques d'heures et minutes". A very fine, rare and historically important 18K gold and silver hunter case cylinder watch with excentric hour and minute dials, sold to HM King George IV of Great Britain, with origianl fitted red Morocco box no. 4420
THE PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTOR
Breguet No. 4420 "Montre simple plate à deux cadrans excentriques d'heures et minutes". A very fine, rare and historically important 18K gold and silver hunter case cylinder watch with excentric hour and minute dials, sold to HM King George IV of Great Britain, with origianl fitted red Morocco box no. 4420

SIGNED BREGUET, NO. 4420, CASE NO. 4052, SOLD ON 3 OCTOBER 1825 TO S.M. LE ROI D'ANGLETERRE FOR THE SUM OF 2,900 FRANCS

Details
Breguet No. 4420 "Montre simple plate à deux cadrans excentriques d'heures et minutes". A very fine, rare and historically important 18K gold and silver hunter case cylinder watch with excentric hour and minute dials, sold to HM King George IV of Great Britain, with origianl fitted red Morocco box no. 4420
Signed Breguet, No. 4420, case no. 4052, sold on 3 October 1825 to S.M. le Roi d'Angleterre for the sum of 2,900 francs
Gilded brass ruby cylinder movement, plain three arm brass balance with parachute on the top pivot, blued steel flat balance, engine-turned silver dial, eccentric hour and minute dials with Roman numerals, gold Breguet hands, surmounted by the advance/retard slide, circular case, silver band, engine-turned gold covers, revolving back with bayonet catch, turned to open/close the winding hole, the back opened when removing a small screw underneath the bezel, short length of gold chain and gold ratchet key, one side for the male winding, one side for the setting of the hands, case no. 4052 by the workshop of Pierre Benjamin Tavernier (later master's mark MAB in a lozenge, used after 1820), dial signed Breguet
41 mm. diam.
Provenance
George IV, King of Great Britain and Ireland
George IV (George Augustus Frederick, 1762 - 1830), was King of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover following the death of his father George III on 29 January 1820, until his own death ten years later. From 1811 until his accession, he served as Prince Regent. A man of exceptional taste and style, George IV is best remembered for his magnificent patronage of the arts.

George was born at St James's Palace, London, on 12 August 1762. As the eldest son of a British sovereign, he automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay at birth; he was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester shortly afterwards. On 18 September of the same year, he was baptised by Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury. His godparents were the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (his maternal uncle, for whom the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), the Duke of Cumberland (his twice-paternal great-uncle) and the Dowager Princess of Wales (his paternal grandmother). George was a talented student who quickly learned speaking French, German and Italian in addition to his native English. He had considerable taste for music and the arts and was remarkably handsome.

George IV led an extravagant lifestyle that contributed to the fashions of the Regency era. He was a patron of new forms of leisure, style and taste. He commissioned the famous architect John Nash to remodel Buckingham Palace and Sir Jeffry Wyattville to rebuild Windsor Castle. Following his idea of a seaside spa he had the Royal Pavilion in Brighton developed as a fantastical seaside palace, adapted by Nash in the "Indian Gothic" style, inspired loosely by the Taj Mahal, with extravagant "Indian" and "Chinese" interiors. George IV was also instrumental in the foundation of the National Gallery and King's College London. His charm and culture earned him the title "the first gentleman of England".

On 8 April 1795 he married his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace. The two were formally separated after the birth of their only child, Princess Charlotte, in 1796.
George IV died in the morning of 26 June 1830 at Windsor Castle and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on 15 July, and was succeeded by his brother Prince William, Duke of Clarence, who reigned as William IV.

The following list comprises the most important watches and clocks sold by Breguet to the Prince de Galles/Prince Regent of Great Britain/King George IV of Great Britain:

1805
No. 83 "Montre à répétition à quantième" in gold
Sold on 22 Ventôse 1805 to the Prince de Galles for the sum of 4'000 francs (certificate no. 2404)
Breguet (1747 - 1823) by Sir David Lionel Salomons, pp. 62, 99, 105, 206 & 207, No. 25
The Art of Breguet by George Daniels, pp. 156 & 157 (pl. 102a-c)
Location: Jerusalem, L.A. Mayer Memorial Institute for Islamic Art, The Sir David Salomons Collection (Inv. WA 96)

1814
No. 1252 "Tourbillon expérimental à échappement à force constante"
Sold in August 1814 to the Prince Regent of Great Britain for the sum of 6,900 francs (certificate no. 2251)
The Art of Breguet by George Daniels, pp. 82, 192 & 193 (pl. 167a-c)
Breguet au Louvre by Emmanuel Breguet, pp. 68 & 69
Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775 by Emmanuel Breguet, pp. 198 & 199 Location: Private Collection

No. 666 and no. 721 "Pendule sympathique, montre sympathique"
Sold in August 1814 to the Prince Regent of Great Britain for the sum of 11,500 francs
Breguet (1747 - 1823) by Sir David Lionel Salomons, p. 93
The Art of Breguet by George Daniels, pp. 89, 94, 178 & 179 (pl. 141 a-e), 336
Breguet au Louvre by Emmanuel Breguet, pp. 66 & 67
Location: The Royal Collection

No. 2806 "Montre de carrosse" in gold
Sold in August 1814 to the Prince Regent of Great Britain for the sum of 4,600 francs
Location: The Royal Collection

1818
No. 2595 "Montre à répétition plate à demi-quarts" in gold
Sold on 2 October 1818 to the Prince Regent of Great Britain for the sum of 3,140 francs
Location: Unknown

No. 2788 "Montre à deux mouvements, simple" in gold
Sold on 2 October 1818 to the Prince Regent of Great Britain for the sum of 7'200 francs (certificate no. 2396)
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century Collection of Sir David Lionel Salomons, London (Inv. No. 11, certificate no. 2595)
Breguet (1747 - 1823) by Sir David Lionel Salomons, pp. 53, 100 & 185, No. 11
The Art of Breguet by George Daniels, pp. 76, 77, 226 (pl. 244a-c) Location: Jerusalem, L.A. Mayer Memorial Institute for Islamic Art, The Sir David Salomons Collection (Inv. WA76-71)

1825
No. 3671 "Pendule à régulateur double"
Sold to HM King George IV of Great Britain on 8 October 1825 for the sum of 25,200 francs (certificate no. 2898)
The Art of Breguet by George Daniels, pp. 82, 254 & 255 (pl. 294a-g), 374
Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775 by Emmanuel Breguet, p. 196
Location: The Royal Collection

No. 4420 "Montre très plate à deux cadrans" in gold
Sold to HM King George IV of Great Britain on 3 October 1825 for the sum of 2,900 francs (certificate no. 2580)
Breguet (1747 - 1823) by Sir David Lionel Salomons, pp. 86, 102 & 291, No. 101
The present watch

1827
No. 4308 "Montre à tact, répétant les demi-quarts, quantième complet avec équation du temps" in gold
Delivered on 27 May 1827 to MM. Rundell Bridge and Rundell for HM King George IV for the sum of 380 pounds sterling (certificate no. 1072)
Breguet (1747 - 1823) by Sir David Lionel Salomons, pp. 66, 101, 220 & 221, No. 37.
Location: Jerusalem, L.A. Mayer Memorial Institute for Islamic Art, The Sir David Salomons Collection

No. 4548 "Montre simple, perpétuelle à tact" in gold
Sold on 4 July 1827 to HM the King of Great Britain for the sum of 350 pounds sterling (certificate no. 1088)
Breguet au Louvre by Emmanuel Breguet, p. 83
Location: Private Collection

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Lot Essay

With Breguet Certificat No. 2580 dated 7 January 1920 and signed by Henry Brown, confirming the sale of watch no. 4420 with gold chain and gold key on 3 October 1825 to S.M. le Roi d'Angleterre for the amount of 2,900 Francs. Furthermore delivered with original fitted red Morocco presentation box No. 4420 stamped Deshoutter, 4, Hannover Street, London, Breguet's representative in London.

As the appellation rightfully implies, Breguet, king of watchmakers and watchmaker of kings, was the watchmaker of choice of the members of the most eminent noble families. Habitually carefully kept and cherished in the relevant collections from one generation to the other, the public appearance of a timepiece with noble provenance is an exceedingly rare event.

Consigned by an important private collector, distinguished by its impressive provenance and excellent original overall condition, the present "montre simple plate à deux cadrans excentriques d'heures et minutes", sold on 3 October 1825 to HM the King of England, represents one of these exceptionally scarce opportunities to acquire one of the Breguet's "Royal" watches.

Like his father King George III, George, Prince of Wales, Prince Regent and future King George IV, was an aficionado of fine watches and clocks and one of Abraham-Louis Breguet's earliest clients, admirers and most loyal customers. Remembered as "a man of exceptional taste and style", it comes to no surprise that he would chose the master watchmakers' extraordinary clocks and watches for his personal collection.

Amongst the most notable timepieces Breguet sold to him are the Constant Force Tourbillon Clock No. 1252 and the Sympathique Clock No. 666, together with Pocket Watch No. 721, featuring an extremely sophisticated synchronizing mechanism, purchased in 1814. The Prince Regent then bought a complicated musical chronometer with a clock work acting as a metronome, the Metronome Clock. Lastly, in 1825, George IV acquired a high-precision Double-Pendulum Resonance Clock No. 3671, reputed as the remarkable "watch with two movements". The latter three are still today highlights of the United Kingdom's Royal Collection.

Acquired by King George IV in 1825 and distinguished by its particularly elegant yet practical design and size, the present watch must have been one of his favorite timepieces for use during official and informal occasions. The sophisticated dial layout impresses by the harmonious display of the separated hour and minute indications, surmounted by the advance/retard function, allowing the easy regulation of the movement. Its finely engine-turned, slim case (also a rarity in the savonnette or hunter form used by Breguet in only about one in every twenty of his watches) was made in the workshops of the celebrated Pierre Benjamin Tavernier, the ruby cylinder movement is fitted with a "suspension élastique", Breguet's ingenious elastic balance suspension also known as pare-chute devised to protect the pivots from blows, ancestor of the shock-protection devices. The attached gold chain and gold male winding ratchet key (a winding key often used by Breguet, incorporating a slanted ratchet clutch to prevent winding except in one direction; if turned the wrong way it revolves harmlessly instead of straining the train and possibly damaging the movement) are most likely still the original accessories sold with the watch in 1825.

It is unknown when King George IV parted with his watch but it can safely be assumed that he presented it to a member of the Scottish noble family Douglas-Hamilton, most likely to his close acquaintance Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852), a Scottish politician, art collector and well-known dandy. According to entries in Breguet's books, watch no. 4420 was returned for a complete overhaul in 1850 by the Marquis de Douglas, furthermore mentioning "sold in 1825, never returned". In 1851, the crystal was replaced, also by order of the Marquis de Douglas. The watch was then returned to Breguet for a complete overhaul in 1860 by the Duc de Hamilton and for a servicing in 1863 by the Duchesse de Hamilton.

Alexander Douglas-Hamilton's son was William Alexander Archibald Hamilton, 11th Duke of Hamilton and 8th Duke of Brandon (1811-1863), husband of Princess Marie Amélie of Baden, daughter of the Grand Duke Charles of Baden and Stéphanie de Beauharnais, the adopted daughter of Napoleon I. Their daughter Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton was married to Albert I, Prince of Monaco, their only son Louis II, Prince of Monaco, grandfather of Rainier III.

After its servicing at Breguet in 1863, the tracks of watch no. 4420 vanish until around 1920-1921 when it reappears in the family of the celebrated inventor, scientist and watch collector Sir David Lionel Salomons (1851-1925). In his book "Breguet (1747-1823)", published for the prestigious exhibition "Centenaire de A.L. Breguet" held at the Musée Galliéra in Paris in 1923, watch no. 4420 is described on page 86, exhibit no. 101, as "belonging to Madame Bryce". It is furthermore listed on page 102 under "Watches not in the collection of the author" and prominently illustrated on page 291. The accompanying Breguet Certificat No. 2580 is dated Paris, 7 January 1920 and signed by Henry Brown, then the owner of the house of Breguet. It was possibly established on request of Mrs Edward Bryce upon acquisition of King George IV's watch.

Mrs Edward Bryce, née Vera Frances Salomons (1888-1969), was Sir David's third daughter. From his five children possibly the most similar to her father, she shared many of his interests - such as his passion for watches made by the celebrated Abrahm-Louis Breguet.

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