Breguet

The Breguet Watch Company was another of the Swiss watch makers that was founded in another country. Abraham-Louis Breguet was born in Switzerland but married a French lady. It was her dowry that made it possible to open up the first workshop in 1775 in the city of Paris.

Breguet‘s first contribution to the watch making industry was the very first self winding watch in 1780. It was referred to as the perpetuelles.  It contained an oscillating weight with two ongoing barrels. In 1783 the development of the gong spring on the minute repeater and in 1789 the famous Breguet key were also introduced to the public.  In 1790 the great achievement of inventing the first shock proof watch was introduced. While it was not finalized until 1806, it was still considered a major achievement.

In 1795 he developed the now famous tourbillion. This is a mechanism that encloses the escapement along with the balance wheel of the watches movement in a cage that can rotate. This was done in order to counter the effects of gravity on the watches ability to keep time accurately. The patent was not given for this until 1801.

From his time as an apprentice then on his own, his influence in the French court grew. Not only did King Louis XVI purchase his watches but it is believed the Queen Marie Antoinette had a watch commissioned that would contain all of the components a watch could have at that point in time.  It was this association with the French court that made him a target during the French Revolution and his appointment with the guillotine. From 1790 to 1795 he could not work because of fear for his life. Luckily he had many friends and safely escaped to Switzerland in 1793.

In 1795 he returned to Paris and again opened up a watch making shop. In 1810 he was commissioned by the Queen of Naples for create a wrist watch, his first. It took 2 years to complete. After Abraham-Louis Breguet death in 1823 the first innovation was the keyless winding pocket watch by his company that was now being run by his son.

The Breguet watches were famous amongst royalty and fashion political along with being a part of French literature for its contribution to the art of watch making. While Marie Antoinette never took possession of her watch because she was beheaded, Queen Victoria did in 1838 and so did Winston Churchill in 1901. The name Abraham-Louis Breguet is also one of the 72 names engraved in the Eiffel Tower.

In 1976 the entire production of the Breguet Watch Making Company was moved to Switzerland. This occurred because of the purchase of the company by the Swatch Group, but the Breguet named remained in place.

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