My curiosity in high-end mechanical watches began a number of many years in the past on discovering what was then the ThePuristS Unbiased Discussion board (now WatchProSite), excellently moderated by Curtis Thomson. A watchmaker himself, Thomson’s information and keenness for unbiased watchmakers was one of many major drivers in getting unbiased watchmakers and boutique manufacturers in entrance of early adopters and later an internationally influential viewers.
ThePuristS Unbiased Discussion board fomented my nascent horological ardour for watchmaking. And to me “watchmaking” was synonymous with “unbiased watchmaking.” I knew little concerning the massive watch manufacturers and cared much less. Breguet was simply one other identify to me.
When the information of the Swatch Group buyout of Breguet went viral on the then first buds of horological social media – i.e., area of interest watch dialogue boards – the outcry largely washed over me.
A number of years later, my near-maniacal curiosity in watches had unfold in a low dose to my (Swiss) spouse, Brigitte. She had proven little curiosity in my ardour for watches however determined that she wished a pleasant sports activities watch with a mechanical motion (ideally automated) appropriate for horse using, the workplace, and going out.
And as I quickly found, for Brigitte it wasn’t a query of which model we must always take a look at –that was a given: she wished a Breguet.
In spite (or as a result of) of my trickle-feed educating, Brigitte didn’t know a lot concerning the world of superb mechanical wristwatches, however she knew one factor: on the planet of superb watches, Breguet was the most effective. Subsequently it was by no means a query of which model to search for however reasonably which Breguet mannequin. She opted for a small Breguet Marine.
Jaded by so many nice watches
I had the nice fortune and pleasure to have lived close to Geneva in Switzerland for 25 years, and I spent a lot of that point assembly with most of the world’s biggest watchmakers and dealing with most of the world’s biggest watches. I used to be completely spoiled rotten. And liked it!
However a few years in the past after a giant worldwide watch truthful (keep in mind these?) and taking hundreds of pictures of lots of of lovely watches, I began to really feel a bit jaded. Being immersed in superb watches and superb watchmaking had made me blasé; it started to really feel extra like work than the pleasurable pastime it as soon as was.
Treatment for feeling jaded: cold-turkey withdrawal and a holy grail
Then, after 25 years in Switzerland, Brigitte and I moved to central France, practically 5 hours’ drive from Geneva: so no extra of the world’s greatest horology on my doorstep. Then COVID-19, the closing of the large Swiss watch exhibitions, and journey restrictions in Europe (and the world): so no extra me even touring to see plenty of watches and all of my watch-loving mates. I began to overlook them each.
Then in the summertime of 2020 there was a quick window of sunshine within the COVID-19 cloud: Europe opened up once more (we are actually paying for that) and Geneva Watch Days was on. And it was socially distanced incredible! It was nice with the ability to deal with and admire superlative watches with mates once more.
One watch above all others: Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch
I’ve a lifetime provide of smile-inducing reminiscences from Geneva Watch Days 2020, however one stands head and shoulders above all others: on the Breguet boutique in Geneva Emmanuel Breguet handed me a fully beautiful two-century-old Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch, a timepiece that the nice grasp might have dealt with himself, and stated, “Take it.”
I took it gently and gingerly in two gloved palms, with my foot beneath, simply in case, and my jaw dropped open. I felt I used to be holding the Holy Grail.
Cognitive dissonance warning: whereas this was a watch that Abraham-Louis Breguet might have dealt with himself, in my thoughts each then and now Monsieur Breguet himself sweated over each a part of this watch. I felt I used to be reaching out over time and touching the hand (or one thing touched by the hand) of (a horological) god: Abraham-Louis Breguet.
The sheer awe and marvel I felt in dealing with this unique Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch, which was manufactured, assembled, and controlled at Breguet’s Quai de l’Horloge atelier in Paris, has remained with me even six months after our all-too-brief encounter.
Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch No. 1836, dated 1807
Pocket watch no. 1836 was from Abraham-Louis Breguet’s second souscription collection. To assist finance manufacturing of his watches (which have been often all distinctive items), Breguet conceived the thought of promoting a collection by souscription (subscription), along with his purchasers paying 25 p.c of the value up entrance.
That enabled Breguet to finance his manufacturing and supply a inexpensive serially produced (so far as that may be referred to as thus in its time) watch reasonably than his common bespoke creations.
Whereas nonetheless comparatively costly, these souscription-series watches have been Breguet’s most reasonably priced and have been very profitable. Round 700 souscription watches (with some technical variations) in each gold and silver instances have been made, most between 1798 and 1805.
They have been designed and constructed for dependable every day use.
The Breguet museum in Paris has all of the data of this watch’s manufacture and sale.
This Breguet souscription pocket watch quantity 1836 was created simply after the French Revolution in 1796 and was bought in 1807 for £600. And, as a testomony to the standard of the motion’s design and the ability of its watchmaker, after greater than 200 years it nonetheless runs completely at this time.
Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch No. 1836: a more in-depth look
The Breguet No. 1836 is a gold souscription pocket watch with a barely domed enamel dial in good situation. It has one hand (to maintain costs down), which is properly blued, and the five-minute markers across the chapter ring make it comparatively straightforward to learn the time pretty precisely.
At 61 mm in diameter, the pocket watch is comparatively giant (even for its time), however the giant diameter allowed Breguet to simplify the motion to run just one hand, but nonetheless very legibly show the time to the minute.
Abraham-Louis Breguet’s secret signature, which makes counterfeiting tougher, is engraved on the dial between the numeral 12 and the blued screw (securing the dial) beneath. Even with a contemporary loupe and understanding it’s there, it’s nonetheless fairly tough to seek out. However after you have discovered it, it’s clearly legible.
The motion contains a fundamental shock safety system for the stability pinion, a ruby cylinder escapement, 36-hour energy reserve, barrel with stop-work mechanism, a easy however unique click on barrel rachet, a bimetallic temperature compensation stability wheel, and a hardened metal escape wheel; all useful surfaces are mirror completed.
Not dangerous for an “entry-level” watch!
Breguet No. 1836 is a really stunning and intensely well-made watch, and the structure and magnificence of the souscription actions performed a major function within the trendy Breguet Custom assortment launched in 2005.
The resemblance between Abraham-Louis Breguet’s souscription pocket watches and the Custom assortment is placing.
Additional studying: I extremely suggest you try Peter Speake’s detailed Deconstruction with plenty of glorious pictures on The Bare Watchmaker at Deconstruction Breguet Souscription/Subscription.
Fast Info Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch No. 1836
Case: 61 mm, yellow gold
Capabilities: hours/minutes with one hand
Dial: white enamel with engraved secret signature
Motion: stability shock safety system, ruby cylinder escapement, 36-hour energy reserve, central barrel with stop-work mechanism, bimetallic temperature compensation stability wheel, hardened metal escape wheel, all useful surfaces mirror completed
Retail worth in 1807: £600
* This text was first revealed on December 13, 2020 at Abraham-Louis Breguet Souscription Pocket Watch No. 1836, dated 1807: Touched (Maybe) By The Hand Of The Horological God – I’m Jaded No Longer.