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Breguet. A very fine, rare and important 18K gold openface keyless one minute tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance, Breguet numerals, Neuchatel Bulletin d'Observatoire, certificate and box
Breguet. A very fine, rare and important 18K gold openface keyless one minute tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance, Breguet numerals, Neuchatel Bulletin d'Observatoire, certificate and box

SIGNED BREGUET, NO. 986, SOLD TO MONSIEUR JEAN DOLLFUS ON 1ST FEBRUARY 1926

Details
Breguet. A very fine, rare and important 18K gold openface keyless one minute tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance, Breguet numerals, Neuchatel Bulletin d'Observatoire, certificate and box
Signed Breguet, No. 986, sold to Monsieur Jean Dollfus on 1st February 1926
Cal. 20''' nickel-finished fully jewelled lever movement numbered twice, Guillaume balance with gold poising screws, polished steel three arm one minute tourbillon carriage by Pellaton, central jewel carried in gold screwed chaton, blued steel hairspring, glazed dust cover, white enamel dial, Breguet numerals, subsidiary seconds, circular plain case, case numbered, dial and movement signed and numbered
56 mm. diam.
Provenance
Jean and Louis Dollfus
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 a unique wristwatch sold in this saleroom on 16 May 2011.

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. 986, the present, sold to Jean Dollfus on 1st February 1926, amount unknown:
An 18K gold openface tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance and Neuchâtel Bulletin de Marche

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. 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. 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. 2516 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.
Sold in this saleroom on 16 May 2011, lot 427.

Louis Harrison Dulles
Little information is available about Louis Harrison Dulles, a passionate watch collector and regular client of Breguet. His name is notably mentioned in Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775 by Emmanuel Breguet, chapter "The Century of the Brown Family 1870-1970", p. 320: "The firm's clientele was now distributed geographically as far as Japan and the United States and included such striking figures as the Maharajah of Kapurthala, Prince Mirza of Persia, King Fouad I of Egypt and the American L.H. Dulles".

It is thought the Louis Harrison Dulles was the brother of Allen Welsh Dulles (1893-1969), first civilian Director (1953-1961) of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a member of the Warren Commission, John Foster Dulles (1888-1959), US Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Eleanor Lansing Dulles (1885-1996), author, teacher and government employee.

The Dulles siblings were members of a diplomatic dynasty which spanned three generations: their grandfather, John Watson Foster, served as US Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison, their mother's sister was the wife of Robert Lansing, US Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson.

Other watches known to date sold by Breguet to Mr. and Mrs. Dulles include the following, listed after the sale dates:

No. 3701 originally sold on 22 September 1894 for 2,650 Francs, bought back from Cherif Pacha on 28 February 1927 for 8000 Francs and sold on the same day and for the same amount to Monsieur L.H. Dulles:
An 18K gold openface quarter repeating perpetual calendar keyless lever watch with phases of the moon and independent centre seconds

No. 1715 sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 4 June 1927 for 6,700 Francs: An 18K white gold "chronoscope" or wandering hours watch
Sold in this saleroom on 16 November 2006, lot 299

No. 1939 sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 7 January 1928 for 7,040 Francs:
An 18K gold hunter case keyless lever chronometer watch

No. 1648 sold to Madame Dulles on 18 December 1928 for 31,000 old Francs:
An 18K gold openface perpetual calendar watch with winding indicator, equation of time, phases and age of the moon

No. 1639 sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 29 July 1929 for 40,000 Francs:
An 18K gold openface perpetual calendar watch with phases of the moon, equation of time and sunrise/sunset indication, calculated for the latitude of New York

No. 926, the present watch, originally sold on 1 February 1926 to Jean Dollfus for the amount of 20,000 Francs, bought back in 1954 and sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 3 September 1954:
An 18K gold openface keyless one minute tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance and Neuchâtel Bulletin d'Observatoire

No. 2524 sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 22 October 1954:
An 18K gold openface perpetual calendar keyless lever watch with centre seconds and phases of the moon

No. 3357 sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 22 November 1959 for 900,000 old Francs:
An 18K two colour gold openface keyless watch with winding indicator and one minute tourbillon

No. 4580 sold to Monsieur L.H. Dulles on 19 February 1960 for 6,000 Francs:
An 18K gold keyless pocket chronometer

Condition Report

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Lot Essay

With Breguet Certificat No. 2691 signed G. Brown confirming that the present tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance, enamel dial, First Class bulletin and first prize at the Neuchâtel Observatory was sold to Monsieur Jean Dollfus on 1st February 1926. Furthermore delivered with Neuchâtel Observatoire Astronomique et Chronométrique Bulletin de Marche dated 23 December 1925 and original fitted burgundy presentation box no. 986.

According to the Archives of Breguet, the watch, fitted with a Pellaton tourbillon and originally sold to Mr. Dollfus for the amount of 20,000 Francs (information not stated in the Certificate), was returned to them in 1954 and sold to Louis Harrison Dulles on 3 September 1954 (price not mentioned), a procedure not unusual at the time - several other watches made by the celebrated house for Mr. Dollfus were later taken back and sold to Mr. Dulles.

The present high precision watch is a most impressive example of one of the exceedingly rare tourbillon chronometers of Breguet's recent production. The ébauche was commissioned by Breguet and made by the celebrated Jämes C. Pellaton of Le Locle. Jämes Cäsar Pellaton, better known as James C. Pellaton, (b. 1873 in Le Locle, d. 1954), was one of the most esteemed 20th century makers of tourbillon carriages. He learned his craft from his father Albert Pellaton-Favre (1832-1914), also a highly respected tourbillon maker. Pellaton's tourbillons were supplied to the world's most celebrated watch manufacturers and are a class apart in the area of precision horology. In addition to the outstanding result obtained, these timepieces are distinguished by their esthetical concept combined with the highest technical perfection and craftsmanship.

Since its first public appearance in 1989, the present watch has remained in the same private collection, unused and locked away in a vault, until its consignment to this auction in 2011. It combines all aspects requested by the demanding collector, made by one of the world's most famous watch manufacturers, fitted with the most discerning complications, the tourbillon regulator supplied by the renowned Jämes Pellaton, a First Prize at the Neuchâtel Observatory and prominent provenance.

Offered here for only the second time at public auction and preserved in excellent overall condition, this masterpiece pays tribute to Abraham Louis Breguet's horological legacy. It combines past and modern watchmaking in a most harmonious way and is part of what is considered the pinnacle of 20th century watchmaking.

The Tourbillon
On 10 November 1801, horological legend Abraham Louis Breguet (1747-1823) received a patent for his ingenious tourbillon invention. Breguet designed the tourbillon (or whirlwind) to compensate for fluctuations and errors in time measurement caused by the position a watch is placed in. For example, watches with traditional movements may keep excellent time when resting on a desk horizontally, but when that same watch is 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 a tourbillon watch is properly adjusted, the effects of gravity are essentially nullified, regardless of how it is positioned.

Precision timekeeping has always been vital to the scientific community, and in 1873, the first annual chronometer competition was held at the Geneva Astronomical Observatory. Rigorous quantitative internationally recognized testing standards were established. The testing, which initially lasted for 40 days, consisted of placing the watches in various positions and temperature conditions. The prestigious watchmakers Patek Philippe were awarded First Prize in the competition as early as 1884.

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