|Height||Diameter: 62 mm|
Abraham-Louis Breguet. A Particularly Fine Example of an Early Breguet Souscription.
The Souscription watch was devised by Breguet during his time in exile in Switzerland during the French Revolution in the mid 1790s. On his return he wanted to re-establish his business and designed this style of simple, high quality watch which could be purchased by ‘souscription’ (subscription) – the owner paying an advance before the watch was completed. It was a project which evolved, this watch being an early example of the ‘final stage’ and is considered to be the most elegant of all the Souscriptions, having a plain silver case with gold bands and bow.
On seeing a Souscription for the first time, one is immediately impressed by its imposing size, a massive 62mm. The white enamel dial has Breguet’s trademark Arabic numerals and the chapter is divided into five minute divisions which easily facilitates reading the time via the single, blued steel Breguet hand. The dial fixing screw is above ‘6’, it is signed, BREGUET ET FILS below and carries the miniature secret signature below ’12’ reading, Souscription, No. 866 Breguet, in cursive script. The hand is set by simply moving it with a matchstick or something similar. The watch is wound through the centre of the hand and it has a loose ring pendent. These features, combined with its large size are reminiscent of the ‘Oignon’ watches made in Paris a hundred years earlier which the French public were always particularly fond of. The inside of the case back carries the usual French hallmarks and the casemakers mark for Joly. The movement is exquisite. The large barrel is in the centre of the watch and the balance and second wheel are symmetrically positioned around it, being linked together by the third and fourth wheel held under their chamfered bridges. All the brass work is gilded and the screws are of blued steel. The plate is signed, Breguet No. 866, Souscriptions are the only watches signed on the movement. The large balance has all the desirable features expected in a fine Breguet including a ruby cylinder, temperature compensation curb and parachute shock protection.
The Breguet Souscription has become a truly iconic design classic in the field of horology, being instantly recognisable by its elegant features. What makes this particular watch so desirable is not only the most elegant combination of plain silver case with gold bezel but the fact that it is such a low number for the final series, dating it to 1803. The earlier Souscriptions, although important horologically, do not have the beauty of the ‘final stage’ examples whereas some of the later ones with their all gold, engine turned case, somehow lack the simplicity and individuality of the early 19th century examples. Each one of these watches is slightly different, Breguet allowing his trusted craftsmen to individualize them as they saw fit.
This watch was first sold to a Monsieur Valego on 1st June 1803 for 600 francs.
|Clock maker:||Abraham-Louis Breguet|
|Height:||Diameter: 62 mm|