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BREGUET NO. 1918 "MONTRE GARDE-TEMPS A TOURBILLON". AN EXCEPTIONAL AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT TWO-COLOUR 18K GOLD OPENFACE POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH FOUR MINUTE TOURBILLON, ECHAPPEMENT NATUREL, DOUBLE SUBSIDIARY SECONDS, POWER RESERVE, STOP-SECONDS FEATURE AND REGULATOR DIAL
BREGUET NO. 1918 "MONTRE GARDE-TEMPS A TOURBILLON". AN EXCEPTIONAL AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT TWO-COLOUR 18K GOLD OPENFACE POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH FOUR MINUTE TOURBILLON, ECHAPPEMENT NATUREL, DOUBLE SUBSIDIARY SECONDS, POWER RESERVE, STOP-SECONDS FEATURE AND REGULATOR DIAL
BREGUET NO. 1918 "MONTRE GARDE-TEMPS A TOURBILLON". AN EXCEPTIONAL AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT TWO-COLOUR 18K GOLD OPENFACE POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH FOUR MINUTE TOURBILLON, ECHAPPEMENT NATUREL, DOUBLE SUBSIDIARY SECONDS, POWER RESERVE, STOP-SECONDS FEATURE AND REGULATOR DIAL
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BREGUET NO. 1918 "MONTRE GARDE-TEMPS A TOURBILLON". AN EXCEPTIONAL AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT TWO-COLOUR 18K GOLD OPENFACE POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH FOUR MINUTE TOURBILLON, ECHAPPEMENT NATUREL, DOUBLE SUBSIDIARY SECONDS, POWER RESERVE, STOP-SECONDS FEATURE AND REGULATOR DIAL
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BREGUETNO. 1918 FOUR-MINUTE TOURBILLON
BREGUET NO. 1918 "MONTRE GARDE-TEMPS A TOURBILLON". AN EXCEPTIONAL AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT TWO-COLOUR 18K GOLD OPENFACE POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH FOUR MINUTE TOURBILLON, ECHAPPEMENT NATUREL, DOUBLE SUBSIDIARY SECONDS, POWER RESERVE, STOP-SECONDS FEATURE AND REGULATOR DIAL

SIGNED BREGUET ET FILS, NO. 1918, CASE NO. 3061, SOLD ON 13 FEBRUARY 1822 TO MONSIEUR LE COMTE D'ARCHINTO FOR THE SUM OF 4,640 FRANCS

Details
BREGUET NO. 1918 "MONTRE GARDE-TEMPS A TOURBILLON". AN EXCEPTIONAL AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT TWO-COLOUR 18K GOLD OPENFACE POCKET CHRONOMETER WITH FOUR MINUTE TOURBILLON, ECHAPPEMENT NATUREL, DOUBLE SUBSIDIARY SECONDS, POWER RESERVE, STOP-SECONDS FEATURE AND REGULATOR DIAL
SIGNED BREGUET ET FILS, NO. 1918, CASE NO. 3061, SOLD ON 13 FEBRUARY 1822 TO MONSIEUR LE COMTE D'ARCHINTO FOR THE SUM OF 4,640 FRANCS
Movement: cal. 24''' gilded brass movement with jewelling, semi-elliptical backplate, reverse fusée with maintaining power, échappement naturel, three arm bimetallic compensation balance with an oscillation rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour, blued steel balance spring with terminal curve, all mounted in the two-arm tourbillon cage driven from the second wheel pinion and revolving once every four minutes
Dial: engine-turned silver regulator dial, outer dot minute and Arabic 15 minute divisions, small hour dial with Roman numerals on plain chapter ring, secret signature at 12, blued steel Breguet hands, elongated minute hand, two small subsidiary seconds dials flanking the hour dial, fan-shaped power reserve sector calibrated for 35 hours, applied plaque engraved “Regulator a Tourbillon”
Case: two-colour gold engine turned ‘grains d’orge’, the back cover centred by the blue champlevé enamel arms of a Duke, the tourbillon carriage stopped by a lever in the bezel, allowing the precise setting of the time, 65.5 mm. diam., gold cuvette with an applied plaque engraved “Regulateur A Tourbillon / Par Brevet D’Invention”
With: Breguet certificate No. 3528 dated 11 October 1977 and a later Breguet Morocco leather numbered presentation box

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Remi Guillemin
Remi Guillemin Head of Department, Geneva

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Lot Essay

An exceptional rarity, this superb high precision watch is one of only seven known four minute tourbillons made by Breguet, only four of these seven tourbillons are fitted with Breguet’s own ‘Echappement Naturel’. One of the seven watches, No. 1297, fitted with a Robin escapement, was made for King George III of Great Britain.

A chief highlight of one of the world’s great private watch collections for many decades, the present watch is quite likely to be the last of its kind to be offered at auction and represents the opportunity for collectors to acquire both a magnificent and technically fascinating object and a historically significant example of Breguet’s most famous invention from the workshop of the master himself.

Believed to have been invented in 1795 and patented in 1801, the purpose of Breguet's revolutionary "tourbillon" (French for whirlwind) mechanism was to compensate for fluctuations and errors in time measurement caused by the position a watch is placed in. Watches with traditional movements may keep excellent time when resting on a desk horizontally but when placed vertically in a pocket, gravity affects the frequency or rate of the escapement and thus its accuracy. Breguet's invention compensated for these gravitational effects by placing the escapement in a revolving carriage. As the tourbillon carriage revolves (usually one entire revolution per minute), its position constantly changes and consequently the fluctuations in rate caused by gravity are averaged out. Once properly adjusted, the effects of gravity are essentially nullified, regardless of how the watch is positioned. The tourbillon was not only one of Breguet's most famous inventions but also one of the most difficult to realize - according to the archives of Breguet, only 35 examples were sold between 1805 and 1823, underlining the rarity of these exceptional timepieces.


Breguet's very first timekeeper featuring his newly invented tourbillon was numbered 282 and signed Exte. en Messd. An 8 (Executed in June/July 1800) and "1er régulateur à tourbillon", (first tourbillon regulator), using an Arnold spring detent escapement. Possibly never meant to leave Breguet's workshops, the watch is described in his archives simply as "garde temps" and was not sold until 1832. Oofficially the second tourbillon, no. 169 with a variation of the chronometer escapement, the Peto cross detent, was completed in 1809 and presented to the celebrated watchmaker John Roger Arnold in 1809 in memory of Breguet's friendship with his father.

The present watch is fitted with Breguet's own escapement, the "échappement naturel", it is fascinating to imagine that the master may have personally worked on it, together with his most important watchmaker Michel Weber. Tourbillon No. 1918 illustrates Breguet's ingenuity in yet another regard: its balance vibrates at the impressively high rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour, as opposed to the usual rate of 14,000 to 18,000 of the period. The improvement in rate resulted in the balance being less affected by the movement of the watch while worn and consequently in obtaining better accuracy. Breguet used this high VPH rate exclusively in his tourbillons until the introduction of watches with lever escapements in 1815. It was however only in the 20th century that such a high vibration rate was employed again, now in the movements of wristwatches.

The following are Breguet’s four minute tourbillon watches known to date:

No. 1176 - sold to Comte Potocki in 1809. Echappement naturel, gold dial
No. 1188 - sold to Don Antonio of Spain in 1808. Echappement naturel, now with later enamel dial
No. 1297 - sold to His Majesty King George III via Recordon in 1808. Robin escapement
No. 1918 - sold in 1822 to Comte d’Archinto. Echappement naturel, silver dial – the present watch
No. 2396 - sold in 1815. Echappement à force constante
No. 2483 - sold in 1819 to the Bishop of Cambrai. Echappement naturel, silver dial
No. 2555 - started in 1809 and sold to Lord Trafford in 1841. Peto cross detent escapement, silver dial

The Échappement Naturel
Following the introduction of detent chronometer escapements with compensated balances, very close rates could be achieved in marine chronometers and to a lesser degree in pocket chronometers. This was mainly due to the minimal interference with the balance during unlocking and impulse, and this was partly due to the lack of the need for oil on the escapement's working surfaces. The detent escapement as used in pocket chronometers was prone to stopping as a result of motion. Breguet realized that this fault could be removed and many of the advantages of the detent escapement retained if an impulse were given in both directions rather than just one direction of swing of the balance. To achieve this, he geared two escape wheels together, one escape wheel driven by the fourth wheel, in turn geared to and driving a second escape wheel. A pivoted detent swings freely between them and locks each wheel in turn on pegs projecting above the rims of the wheels. The escapement has been described by several authors such as P. Chamberlain in : It's About Time and in George Daniels, The Art of Breguet, pp. 319-321.

Breguet made less than thirty examples of this exceedingly rare escapement, almost half of which are watches described in public sources: four surviving examples in the 'development' period for the escapement, eight made in the second period of production, all with tourbillion carriages. In addition to the watches, some marine chronometers and carriage clocks used the escapement.




































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