A fine, charismatic and rare rose gold complicated wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Breguet, founded in 1775. Estimated production period: the first half of 2010s. Case made of 18k rose gold, diameter 35mm, thickness 9.15mm, signed crown, sapphire caseback. 18k gold silver-plated dial with hand-made guilloché decoration and Breguet double secret signature between XI and XII and XII and I. Hand-wound caliber 558.1 hand-engraved, Breguet hairspring. Power reserve up to 50 hours. Functions – hours, minutes, tourbillon, three-pointed small seconds hand on the tourbillon shaft. Black leather strap with Breguet 18k rose gold double folding clasp. 

Lot essay 

Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder of the brand, is one of the most prolific watch designers and inventors in watchmaking history. In particular, he has the honour of having invented the tourbillon, a complication mechanism with balance, hairspring and escapement parts installed in a rotating carriage. The tourbillon was invented in 1795, and a French patent was granted to Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801. The aim of this invention was to improve the accuracy of the pocket watch by averaging the positional error via the rotation of the tourbillon. In the modern era, the tourbillon has acquired legendary status in high watchmaking and is one of the most beautiful mechanical complications. 

The Breguet brand was one of the first to undertake the development of serial production wristwatches with a tourbillon; this work was started by the watchmaker Daniel Roth, who worked for the brand in the 1970s and 1980s and under whose leadership the design of the caliber 558 (Nouvelle Lémania 397) was carried out at the Nouvelle Lémania manufacturer of watch movements. The manual-wound caliber has a one-minute tourbillon and characteristic design with upward-shifted hour and minute hands. Another of Daniel Roth’s design features that survives in Breguet tourbillon watches up to the current collection is the three-pointed small seconds hand, mounted on the tourbillon shaft to indicate the seconds on the sector scale. 

It is interesting to note that the same design was used in the pocket tourbillon No.3357, which was made in the 1940s for Breguet by the watchmaker Fritz-André Robert-Charrue, who became famous as the master of the smallest tourbillon in the world.

Breguet has produced reference 3357 tourbillon wristwatches in 18k rose, yellow and white gold, according to our estimates, since the early 2000s. Ref. 3357 is an updated version of the classic reference 3350, the first tourbillon wristwatch of the respectable brand, launched in 1988. Both references are based on the same hand-wound caliber 558, and both have an almost identical design. 

The transition from reference 3350 to 3357 took place, according to our estimates, in the early 2000s. This transition was most likely caused by a modification of the original 558 caliber (unfortunately there is no official information). The most notable design change is the new shape of the tourbillon carriage and the placement of some parts – the new caliber version is referred to as 558.1, although Breguet currently defines this movement as 558T as well. The peculiarity of this carriage is the transition from using an escapement with a regulator index of the effective length of the spiral, found in the original design, to a free-sprung balance scheme, in which the regulator index is not required. The new tourbillon carriage shape is a three-beam equidistant one. It is interesting to note that the same design was used in the pocket tourbillon No.3357, which was made in the 1940s for Breguet by the watchmaker Fritz-André Robert-Charrue, who became famous as the master of the smallest tourbillon in the world. It is also interesting to note that in the latest generation 3357 models, information about which is available on the brand’s website, Breguet returned to the original design of the tourbillon carriage, and again designates this movement as 558T. 

References 3350 and 3357 are currently the longest-running wrist tourbillon model in production without significant changes in design and mechanics, which does credit to the brand that invented the tourbillon. There have been many versions over the entire period of references 3350 and 3357 with some variations in design and movement, so these references are an incredibly attractive collectible and research item. Unfortunately, there is very little information available about the evolution of references 3350 and 3357, so in our opinion, this topic is naturally very interesting for research and collecting. 

These references are an incredibly attractive collectible and research item.

The present lot dates back to the first period of reference 3357. The watch retains the 35mm case of the original design, has signed crown and an exquisite hand-guilloché solid gold and silvered dial – one of the most popular brand markers of what is commonly called the Breguet style. The dial has an inscription “Swiss guilloche main” (“Guilloche produced by hand in Switzerland”), one of the mandatory features of the reference 3357. The reverse side of the movement deserves special attention – it is exquisitely and lavishly engraved by hand, and, moreover, there exists at least 4 basic engraving versions. The decoration of the present watch belongs to version 3. Keep in mind that the engraving is done by hand and although it follows one of the 4 basic designs, the engraving is different each time in small details, and therefore any watch is essentially a unique piece. 

Reasons to bid 

The Breguet Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon Ref. 3357BR/12/986 is a fine and attractive purchase for a collector, who will receive a beautiful and rare tourbillon watch from a world-famous traditional watch brand, one of the undoubted leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market. The combination of impeccable technical workmanship, exquisite artisan finishing of the hand-guilloché dial and hand-engraved second-generation caliber, recognizable design with a tourbillon open on the dial side and upward-shifted hour and minute hands undoubtedly adds to the appeal of this lot. The present lot features an 18k rose gold case and a double folding clasp that significantly increase the perceived value of the watch and underscore the aesthetic character of this model, endowed with the best signs of the famous Breguet style. 

N. B. 

The keen collector should note that also offered for purchase in this sale is another rare 18k rose gold Breguet tourbillon watch – the Classique Tourbillon “Breguet à Versailles” Ref. 1801BR/29/2W6. Together with the present lot, they represent significant pages of the Breguet tourbillon wristwatches chronicle.