An extremely fine, rare and important limited-edition complicated wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Breguet, founded in 1775. Date of production: 2001. Case made of 18k rose gold, diameter 40.5mm, thickness 10.3mm, hinged hand-guilloché cover with porthole and engraved “Tourbillon” plaque, opened by a co-axial push-button in the winding crown, white grand feu enamel dial, sapphire caseback. Hand-wound tourbillon caliber 557T, finely hand-engraved from the rear side, power reserve up to 50 hours. Functions – hours, minutes, tourbillon, small seconds hand on the tourbillon shaft. Dark brown crocodile strap with Breguet 18k rose gold double folding clasp. Limited edition of 28 pieces.
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 him 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 the status of a legend of high watchmaking and one of the most beautiful mechanical complications.
The Tourbillon “Breguet à Versailles” was produced in 2001 in two limited editions of 28 pieces – one in 18k rose gold, as in the present lot, and one in 18k white gold (Ref. 1801BB/29/2W6) – to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the invention of the tourbillon. The auctioneer Antiquorum also noted, in 2004, that a platinum Ref. 1801 model with guilloche dial, limited to 10 pieces, was released as well (though this has not been confirmed by other sources). To pay tribute to Breguet’s invention, an evening reception at the Château of Versailles was organised. The celebrations, planned for 2001 to coincide with the 200th anniversary, were cancelled and moved to 2002 after the 9/11 attacks. That is the reason why the actual launch date for the limited editions should be considered as 2002. It was one of the first sonorous launches of the brand, produced under the leadership of the charismatic Nicolas G. Hayek, since its acquisition by the Swatch Group in 1999. The hinged case cover is hand-engraved inside with the inscription “Breguet à Versailles” and the limited-edition number. The back plate of the movement is hand-engraved with a floral motif in the Rococo style, also engraved with the inscriptions “Tourbillon Breguet”, “Brevet du 7 Messidor an 9” (French Republican date of issue of the patent, corresponding to June 26, 1801), and the serial number of the timepiece according to the system adopted at Breguet. The white enamel dial has Breguet-style Arabic numerals and Breguet hands in blued steel.
The Classique Tourbillon “Breguet à Versailles” Ref. 1801BR/29/2W6 would appear to be an excellent purchase, a real must-have for the collector who desires an extremely fine, rare and important limited-edition complicated wristwatch
Due to the success of the Ref. 1801 limited editions, the brand further decided to continue the production of a watch with a notable, unusual design, but with a rhodium-plated dial embellished with vertical Côtes de Genève decoration and Roman numerals: 18k rose gold Ref. 1801BR/12/2W6, and 18k white gold Ref. 1801BB/12/2W6, both in unlimited series. It should also be noted, unlike the limited-edition watches, that the hinged case cover of the unlimited models is manually engraved from the inside with the inscription “Breguet”, and there is no engraving of the limited-edition number. The finishing of the caliber 557T is identical to the limited-edition watches.
Reasons to bid
The Classique Tourbillon “Breguet à Versailles” Ref. 1801BR/29/2W6 would appear to be an excellent purchase, a real must-have for the collector who desires an extremely fine, rare and important limited-edition complicated wristwatch 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-engraved movement, unusual recognizable design with demi-savonnette case, hinged cover with opening for time indication by upward-shifted hour and minute hands, and a tourbillon open on the dial side, undoubtedly adds to the appeal of this lot.
The keen collector should note that also offered for purchase in this sale is another highly collectible 18k rose gold Breguet tourbillon watch – Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon Ref. 3357BR/12/986. Together with the present lot, they represent the impressive timeline of this complication in Breguet collection over the years.