Accompanied by original fitted Breguet Paris burgundy presentation box numbered 2926.
The first self-winding pocketwatches, called "perpétuelles" featuring an oscillating platinum weight were created by Abrahm-Louis Breguet as of the mid 18th century. The development of automatic wristwatches however started only in the early 1920s, the first example most probably made by Léon Leroy in 1922 (sold in this saleroom on 18 May 2004, lot 192).
The present watch is certainly one of Breguet's earliest self-winding wristwatches, featuring a semi-circular weight pivoting at the center of the movement. Its rarity is enhanced by the additional complications of the up and down indicator and date combined with constant seconds.
The original owner, Sir Percival David, born in Bombay in 1892, inherited his father's baronetcy in 1926. At a very young age he became fascinated by Chinese art and started his collection shortly after his marriage in London in 1912.
Sir Percival worked closely with the responsibles of the Imperial Collection in the Forbidden City in Beijing and organized the first exhibitions of Chinese Art outside China. In 1932 he established a Chair of Chinese Art and Archaeology at the Courtauld Institute, affiliated with the University of London.
During World War II, Sir Percival actively supported the British aircraft industry, which he considered the most crucial front of the war. After having studied during one year the various types in the United States, he decided in favor of the British "Mosquito" and contributed financially to its production.
Sir Percival and his wife spent the remaining years of the war in South Africa and made plans for the disposition of their collection and library, deciding that it should remain together.
In 1952 the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art was installed at 53, Gordon Square in London, and comprises supreme Chinese ceramics ranging from the 10th to the 18th century.