With Montres Breguet Certificate No. 4316 dated 19 March 2009 confirming the sale of the present "Pendulette de Voyage dite Montre de Carosse" on 18 March 1812 to the Queen of Naples for the amount of 4,000 Francs. According to the Archives of Montres Breguet, it was returned to their workshops in 1890 for a "révision complète". Undoubtedly, the year cylinder of the calendar work was changed at this time to the one present today on the clock. It is engraved with the years 1890 - 1901, and interestingly those for 1892 and 1896 are marked in red to indicate that they were leap years. Century years are only leap years if divisible by 400, so the year marker for 1900 is not coloured red. As a further aide memoire regarding the calendar, the date cylinder shows 00 at the end of the month rather than 31. This indication reminds the owner to hand-set the date to 1 in May, July, October and December, as the previous months only contain 30-days.
Abraham Louis Breguet is said to have been the inventor of the carriage clock. Typically, these clocks usually took the form of a gilt-metal framed case, glazed on all sides, and with a solid carrying handle on top. It is worth noting that Breguet's very first carriage clock, to this design, No. 178, also with "calendre à rouleaux", was sold to Napoleon Bonaparte on 24th April 1798.
However, for his very highest quality carriage clocks, Breguet encased them in silver 'hump-back' cases with multi-stranded silver chain carrying handles. These clocks dating to between 1812 and about 1828 were made to exacting standards and included all the complications a traveller required. They are rightly considered to be some of Breguet's finest timepieces, costing some eight times more than a silver Souscription watch of the period.
Much appreciated in England throughout the 19th century, the elegant style and design of these silver cased hump-back clocks was continued firstly by James Fergusson Cole (possibly a pupil of Breguet), then by the London firms of Jump, Charles Frodsham and Nicole Nielsen, all producing very limited numbers of exquisite multi-complicated travelling timepieces. In all instances these clocks are more akin to fine watch work than clock work, and indeed Breguet's own description of the timepieces as "Montre de Carosse" bears sentiment to this.
No. 2655 is the earliest recorded extant "Montre de Carosse", and research to date shows just six other known "3rd series" pieces of related design and complexity, each also with subsidiary seconds indication, making no. 2655 unique in this respect.
No. 2793 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to the Grande Duchesse de Toscane, 26th Aug 1813, for 4,000 Francs. This clock was in the celebrated Breguet collection of Sir David Salomons.
No. 2806 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to the Prince Regent d'Angleterre, Aug 1814, for 4,600 Francs. This clock remains the private property of Her Majesty Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom and the Dominions of The British Commonwealth, having formally been the property of her mother Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
No. 2940 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to the Comte de Portales, Seigneur de Gorgier, 10th Feb 1818, for 4,800 Francs. This clock was presumably bought back by the House of Breguet, as it was then sold to Jean Dollfus (another celebrated Breguet collector) on 25 Feb 1928. Through family decent it was then sold Christie's London, 24th November 1993, lot 39. The Breguet certificate accompanying the clock at the time stated that it originally had a barometer that was replaced by Breguet in 1931 with an alarm.
No. 3050 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Twin barrel Marine chronometer, sold Lord Spencer 13th July 1821 for 2,400 Francs. Then Altman collection, Sotheby's London Oct 1987, lot 20.
No. 3629 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to Colonel Cooke, 7 Oct 1822, for 4,800 Francs. Later the clock was in the magnificent horological collections of S.E. Prestige Esq. Now in the British Museum collections, London, privately purchased in 1969. Illustrated in Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775 by Emmanuel Breguet, pp. 266-7.
No. 3749 - Signed Breguet et Fils. With the addition of Equation of Time indication. Sold to Sir Charles Cockerill, 6 Aug 1828, for 5,750 Francs. It was subsequently sold Sotheby's, London, 28 Oct 1963, lot 94.
The timeless design of these early hump-back clocks has remained inspirational to the house of Breguet, who have very occasionally made further similar pieces, with varying complications, for prestigious and loyal clients through to the present day. Notable amongst such clocks is No. 759 which was sold to Ettore Bugatti, the famous Italian car constructor, in 1931. This clock, but with the addition of Grande and Petite striking, was modelled on No. 2940.
We are indebted to Charles Frodsham & Co. Ltd., London, and to Mr. Emmanuel Breguet for their valuable assistance in the research and cataloguing of this timepiece.