This Day in Watch History: Breguet’s “Marie-Antoinette” Watch Was Stolen

Marie-Antoinette watch_original No 160

One of the most famous watches in the world was stolen this day in 1983.  Ironically, it was the theft of this watch that made it so famous.  This, and the fact that in 1783, Abraham-Louis Breguet himself received the order to make the watch as a gift for for none other than France’s Marie-Antoinette.   Alas, the Queen never got to admire her present, as it was not completed until 1827, 34 years after Marie-Antoinette’s death (by the guillotine) and 44 years after A.L. Breguet accepted the order.  Now known as the Breguet “Marie-Antoinette” No. 160, the watch has had an inimitable aura ever since.

And then of course there was the miraculous recovery of the watch in 2007, prior to which Montres Breguet had already began working on a reproduction of the watch, fearing the original lost forever.  The Breguet No 160 has had a fascinating life no doubt!! 

The Nicolas G. Hayek (1928 – 2010) with the reproduction of the Marie-Antoinette, circa 2008

N.G.Hayek with M.A. watch II

The fortunes, misfortunes and general adventures of the “Marie-Antoinette” are, thankfully, well chronicled.  In fact, noted tech blogger John Biggs just last week announced the availability of his book about this very watch (after several years in the works, I believe — congrats John!).  I have not yet read the book (still holding out for a review copy ;-)), but John is a talented guy and so I’ll make an educated guess that it is an enchanting read.  It is available in e-book format for $9.99 and can be purchased here (click image below):

Marie Antoinette watch

For those interested in an abbreviated version of the story, I recommend this article over at Wired.com (also by John Biggs).

And of course lots more over at Breguet.com>>>

 

The Breguet 7077, with Independent Blade Spring Powered Chronograph and More (Video)

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Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077 - Perpetuelle

Breguet’s “La Tradition” (Tradition) collection celebrates its tenth anniversary this year — I’ve already shared two of the three new additions to the line unveiled this year at Baselworld, including the Tradition 7097 Retrograde Seconds and the Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon.  Today we look at my favorite, the Tradition 7077 Chronographe Indépendant 7077.   Within its 44-mm white gold case, the 7077 essentially has two entirely independent movements (gear trains, escapements and springs (but not just any spring!)) for its two primary functions – regular timekeeping and chronograph timing.   But the best of this watch is in the details.  I’ll break it all down, starting with a short video which helps set the stage for what’s going on in this watch.

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A Stunning New Minute Repeater Tourbillon from Breguet, the Tradition 7087

The minute-repeater stands alone, even among the more coveted horological complications, and Breguet’s tourbillons are also in a class all their own.    In the new 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Breguet’s watchmakers and engineers made a clean sweep of the usual methods to design their exceptional timepiece around the sound it produces.   The 7087 represents all the company’s latest innovations for watch like this including the extensive research and development effort that leads up to it.

You can immediately see the unusual shape of the repeater gongs which sit on top of the dial.  The gongs are attached to the bezel which is mounted to the caseband in such a manner that enables the bezel and crystal to vibrate along with the gongs.  The gongs are struck by hammers in an upward motion, which is also unusual.  This novel and pioneering approach enabled Breguet to design a product that has exceptional purity of sound and an original tone.  It all comes together in an utterly fascinating minute repeater!!

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First Look: Breguet Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097

Baselworld 2015 preview…

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Breguet Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097

With 2015 — and the two big annual watch shows — right around the corner, many brands have already taken to pre-releasing a model or two in their 2015 lineup to whet the appetite of watch enthusiasts.  While most sneak peaks have been from Richemont brands attending the January SIHH show, I now have an first look at a spectacular new piece from Breguet which will be officially unveiled at Baselworld 2015 next March.

In the tradition of the collection, the new Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097 puts on full dial-side display the bridges, wheels, escapement, barrel and other components of the caliber.  This particular mode also has a retrograde seconds hand — a perfect complication to be showcased in the Tradition collection.  The retrograde seconds arc intersects the offset hours and minutes display at 12 o’clock, its blue hand also nicely complementing the blued steel Breguet-style hour and minute hands. It has a 40mm white gold case (rose gold also to be offered) with fluted caseband typical of the Breguet style.

Full details and high res images, on the click