A brand that carries on the rich legacy of its founder, one of the greatest watchmakers of all time, Abraham-Louis Breguet, Montres Breguet makes some of the finest high-end Swiss-made watches in the entire world. During the days of A-L Breguet, his timepiece creations were favored amongst the world's royalty, and the likes of Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Caroline Bonaparte, the Queen of Naples, were loyal clients. Vintage Breguet pocket watches are particularly notable because they showcase many of the inventions and innovations of the founder, not to mention the exquisite artistry and expert finishing that was expected of the watchmaker's prestigious clientele.
Today, most of the Breguet catalog is comprised of classic-styled watches with ornate engine-turned dials like the Classique and Tradition models, many of them boasting high complications, such as the tourbillon, which Abraham-Louis Breguet first invented. However, the brand does offer a few sportier models too like the Marine and Type XX thanks to its history with the French Navy. For ladies, Breguet honors its heritage of making timepieces for royalty with the Reine de Naples (Queen of Naples) collection as well as lavish high-jewelry watches.
By reinterpreting traditional watchmaking techniques and designs for a modern audience and infusing them with cutting-edge innovations, Breguet watches are admired by high horology enthusiasts and discerning watch collectors.
Founded in 1775, the early years of Breguet's history were shaped by its founder’s mechanical inventions and design innovations. Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747 – 1823) made several key contributions to horology; for example, he invented the tourbillon mechanism (1801) for pocket watches as a way to offset positional errors caused by the effects of gravity when a timepiece sits in one stagnant position for too long. Before that, however, Abraham-Louis Breguet also developed the “perpétuelle” watch (a self-winding pocket watch) in 1780, a balance spring with a Breguet overcoil (a mechanism still used today by many brands) in 1795, and the shock protection system known as the pare-chute in 1790. Besides technical innovations, Breguet is also behind many classical watch design details such as the hollow circle-tipped Breguet hands (1783) and artistic Breguet numerals.
Breguet also lays claim to the world's very first wristwatch (however, Patek Philippe does too), commissioned by the Queen of Naples in 1810 and delivered in the form of an "oblong-shaped repeater for wristlet" in 1811. Perhaps the most famous Breguet timepiece is the Breguet No. 160 grand complication, more commonly known as the "Marie-Antoinette." Commissioned by an admirer of Queen Marie-Antoinette, Grand Complication No. 160 was only completed after the deaths of both the queen and the watchmaker.
The watch was then stolen from a museum in Jerusalem in the 1980s; and in the mid-2000s, the modern-day Breguet brand set out to build a replica. Valued at $30 million, the Breguet No. 1160 "Marie Antoinette" made its debut in 2008—the very same year the stolen original piece resurfaced.
After many ownership changes taking place in the late-1800s and throughout the 1900s, Montres Breguet joined the Swatch Group in 1999 and remains as an integral part of the watch conglomerate's portfolio today.
Below are some of the most famous Breguet watch models, which range from traditional timepieces to sporty watches to gem-set creations.
|Model||Reference||Case||Movement||Retail Price (MSRP)|
|Tradition 7097||7097BB/G1/9WU||40mm; White Gold||Cal. 505 SR1; Time Only||$33,500|
|Classique 5711 Grand Feu Blue Enamel||5177BB/2Y/9V6||38mm; White Gold||Cal. 777Q; Time/Date||$23,700|
|Classique 5157 Extra-Plat||5157BR/11/9V6||38mm; Rose Gold||Cal. 502.3: Time Only||$18,800|
|Classique Complication 5367 Tourbillon Extra-Plat||5367BR/29/9WU||41mm; Rose Gold||Cal. 581; Tourbillon||$147,500|
|Marine Chronograph 5827||5827BA/12/5ZU||42mm; Yellow Gold||Cal. 583 Q/1; Chronograph||$30,900|
|Type XX 3800||3800ST/92/9W6||39mm; Steel||Cal. 582; Flyback Chronograph||$9,500|
|Type XXI 3817||3817ST/X2/3ZU||42mm; Steel||Cal. 584 Q/2; Flyback Chronograph||$13,900|
|Héritage 5410||5410BB/12/9VV||42mm x 35mm; Rose Gold||Cal. 516 GG; Time/Date||$27,700|
|Reine de Naples 8967||8967ST/E8/786||43.75mm x 35.5mm; Steel||Cal. 591C; Time Only||$21,000|
As one of the finest Swiss watchmaking brands in the market, Breguet watches are accordingly expensive. For men's watches, retail price ranges from just under $10,000 for the steel Type XX chronograph to hundreds of thousands of dollars for gem-set grand complication pieces.
Breguet does not engage in the same brand ambassador marketing that is typical of other luxury watch brands. Instead, it aligns itself with arts and culture, by cultivating partnerships with opera houses, museums, and symphonies around the world. Breguet also recently established a relationship between its La Marine collection and the Race for Water Foundation.
Although Breguet may not have a roster of celebrity ambassadors, the brand certainly counts many high-profile personalities as clients. Country singer star Luke Bryan wears a Breguet Marine Royale while soccer phenom Ronaldo has been spotted with a Breguet Double Tourbillon Platinum paved with diamonds gleaming on his wrist. NBA player and well-known watch collector, Carmelo Anthony has a Breguet Marine Royal Alarm within his vast timepiece collection. Breguet has also made its mark in movies and television with Ben Affleck sporting a Tradition Tourbillon while playing Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight film, Martin Freeman wearing a Type XX as Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series, and Robert De Niro wearing a Breguet Classique in the movie Limitless.
Related brands to consider: used Omega Watches