Brand Spotlight: All Things Breguet
Horology—the science and art of making clocks and watches—is filled with inventors, innovators, and visionaries, but one name stands out above all the rest. When a teenaged Abraham-Louis Breguet left his home in Neuchâtel, France, in 1747 for a watchmaking apprenticeship in Versailles and Paris, he walked into the pages of history as the horological world’s greatest inventor.
Here are just some of the many inventions, innovations, and stylistic flourishes watch lovers can be thankful for because of the House of Breguet, the company Abraham-Louis founded in 1775.
Nearly all Breguet watches are graced with Breguet Hands—elegantly slim and expressive, with a hollow moon tip. First designed in the late 18th century, Breguet Hands are easy to read and lend a sophisticated style to every watch face. The hands are so well known, so iconic, that Breguet Hands has become a common term used by watchmakers.
When form and function combine in perfect synchronization, the results can be transformative. That’s an apt description for Breguet Numerals, the elegant Arabic numerals created by Abraham-Louis Breguet as a way to refine and improve his watch faces, and perfected in 1790. Breguet still uses those numerals today, particularly on watches with enamel dials.
In an industry filled with countless milestones stretching back centuries, here is one of the most important—on June 26, 1801, Abraham-Louis Breguet patented a tourbillon regulator. The Breguet Tourbillon revolutionized timepiece precision by offsetting the effects of gravity on a watch mechanism as the wearer moves their wrist. His ingenius solution was to enclose the complete escapement—balance, spring, lever, and escape-wheel—within a mobile carriage. The result: unheard-of accuracy. While new technology has since improved on Breguet’s marvelous invention, this was the equivalent of an earthquake in the fledgling watchmaking industry.
Breguet Engine Turning
Abraham-Louis Breguet began using engine turning, also known as guilloché—a finishing technique used to exquisitely machine engrave watch dials, cases, and movement components—around 1786, with engine-turned dials of gold and silver he himself designed. The patterns—checkerboards, waves, cross weave, barley, hobnail, sunburst, and many more—are engraved using a Rose Engine lathe, and the resultant nearly three-dimensional decorative finish catches and reflects the light for a truly luminous effect. The master craftsmen at Breguet have honed this technique over the centuries, and in fact still to this day use engine-turning lathes built more than a hundred years ago.
Other Important Breguet Inventions
- Perpétuelle, or Self Winding Watch, 1780—A watch that reliably and effectively winds itself using the movements of the wearer.
- The Pare-Chute, 1790—A shock protection system that made watches less fragile, more likely to remain functioning and accurate after suffering a blow.
- Breguet Balance Spring, 1795—A small spring that regulates the oscillation of the balance. By improving existing balance springs with the “Breguet overcoil”, Abraham-Louis Breguet greatly enhanced watch precision.
- The first wristwatch, 1810—Commissioned by the Queen of Naples, Italy.
- Chronograph, 1820—A watch that conventionally shows time, and also measures and displays elapsed time.
- High Frequency Silicon, 2010—Used to lighten the weight of the mobile escapement components, and to reduce the lubrication constraints linked to ultra high frequencies, for even greater precision.
- The Magnetic Pivot, 2010—A carbon-steel balance staff and a rare-earth magnet behind each endstone, for enhanced precision and reliability.
These are just a small sampling of the many contributions to horology that Abraham-Louis Breguet, and the company he founded nearly 250 years ago, have made, and continue to make.
Discover the full line of fine Breguet timepieces at Feldmar. Browse our online store or stop into our flagship location.