This lot is offered without reserve.
Masterpieces from the workshop of Abraham-Louis Breguet
Following the world record sales of Breguet's No. 2667 and No. 4111 in May 2012, we are proud to continue the series of offering exceptionally rare masterpieces from the workshops of the celebrated master watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), "Watchmaker of the Kings, King of Watchmakers", with lots 284 - 293.
The undisputed highlight of the selection is the "Montre garde-temps à tourbillon" No. 1176, an outstanding and historically important 18K gold openface pocket chronometer with four minute tourbillon, échappement naturel, double subsidiary seconds, power reserve, stop-seconds feature and gold regulator dial, sold to the Polish nobleman Count Stanislas Potocki through Monsieur Moreau in St. Petersburg on 12 February 1809 for the sum of 4,600 Francs. Abraham-Louis Breguet's very first four minute tourbillon and only his third tourbillon watch ever made, the present tourbillon regulator is one of the most important witnesses of Breguet's work to appear in public in recent years (lot 293).
The second watch is another of the master's "signature pieces", an extremely fine and rare self-winding or automatic watch with minute repeating, power reserve and thermometer, No. 2783, started in 1812 - to say it with the words of the legendary George Daniels: "These watches, perhaps above all Breguet's products, best represent the genius of his horological philosophy, technical skill and aesthetic interpretation of function" (lot 292).
Consigned by the same important private collector is watch no. 4601, "Très petite montre à répétition très plate sur les principes des chronomètres", a very fine and rare 18K gold pair case half quarter repeating openface keywound lever jump hour watch with date, gold chain, ratchet key and red Morocco fitted box no. 4601. One of Breguet's smallest repeating watches ever made it is distinguished by a further rarity, a "étui d'or" or gold outer case of such outstandingly high quality that the inner case fits perfectly into it, leaving no visible or tangible clearance. It was sold to the house's faithful client Count Charles de l'Espine in October 1829 for the extraordinary amount of 6,200 Francs (lot 290).
Another apogee of finest watchmaking is Breguet's No. 4039, "Répétition plate sur les principes des chronomètres", an extremely fine and rare 18K gold and silver half quarter repeating openface keywound lever jump hour watch with date, original Notice, silver and gold chain, ratchet key and burgundy Morocco fitted box no. 4039. Consigned by the descendants of a European collector, it is an exceptional example of one of Breguet's extra slim repeating timepieces made "sur les principles des chronomètres" (on the principles of chronometers), distinguished by their unparalleled quality and elegance. Breguet introduced the final form of his repeating watches, the "montres à répétition sur les principes des chronomètres", in 1810, representing the ultimate grade of his repeating watches. It was sold on 30 September 1825 to the Duc de Berwick for the amount of 5,000 Francs (lot 291).
A testimony of French marine chronometry at its best is lot 288, one of Breguet's rare eight-day marine chronometers with power reserve. A member of the Board of Longitude in Paris since 1814, Abraham-Louis Breguet contributed significantly to the development of marine chronometers. The present example was sold to Monsieur Ducom, his agent in Bordeaux, in 1818.
And last but not least No. 569, a fine and rare 18K gold and enamel openface quarter repeating lever watch with keyless winding and hand setting, sold to the Cuban Count of Campo Alegre on 2 October 1847 for the sum of 3,500 Francs. It is one of Breguet's early timepieces fitted with the keyless stem winding and hour setting system marketed by Abraham Louis's son Antoine-Louis already in 1830, the ancestor of all modern winding mechanisms (lot 287).