A pocket watch that first sold in 1809 and was purchased by Breguet at auction for almost a million dollars
October 28, 2017
Boasting a natural escapement, double subsidiary seconds, power reserve indicator, stop-seconds, fusee and chain tourbillon, and an absolutely scintillating gold guilloche regulator dial – this horologically magnificent Breguet pocket watch was sold to adventurer and writer Count Potocki in 1809 for 4,600 Francs.
Fast forward to 2014, and Breguet bought the No. 1176 Montre garde-temps à tourbillon pocketwatch at auction from Christie’s in Geneva with the highest bid of 812,000 Swiss Francs (over $930,000 at 2014 exchange rates), plus fees.
(The pocket watch is part of the permanent display at the Breguet Museum of Paris, located at Place Vendôme 75001).
This is a truly historic piece as it was Abraham-Louis Breguet’s third tourbillon. Also making it the third tourbillon ever made, and possibly the second tourbillon Breguet ever finished, according to Eric Wind of Christie’s. It’s also worth noting that this is a four-minute tourbillon, making it the first of its kind.
Powering the watch is caliber 24 which is a gilded brass movement with “reverse fusée for maintaining constant force, as well as a natural escapement (or échappement naturel), with 12-toothed and 3-toothed escape wheels, three arm bimetallic compensation balance with an oscillation rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz), blued steel balance spring with terminal curve, all mounted in the two-arm tourbillon cage driven from the second wheel pinion and revolving once every four minutes.
The curved, solid gold dial with a regulator layout (meaning indications that are completely distinct from one another), and a hand engine-turned guilloche dial, blued Breguet hands and hand engraved bezel and flanks.
Interestingly, stop-seconds functionality is achieved by activating a lever in the bezel that stops the tourbillon carriage.
The dial by Tavernier is signed “Breguet et Fils,” the movement is signed No. 1176, and the Case is No. 1282 by Am Gros. The watch was sold to Comte Potocki through Monsieur Moreau in St Petersburg on February 12, 1089.
Can only imagine how cool it would be breaking this colossal 65.5 mm chronometric masterpiece out to check the time.