|Height||Diameter 49.5 mm|
Breguet with provenance to William Legge, 4th Earl of Dartmouth
This exquisite quarter repeating watch is the epitomy of Regency elegance, the simple form belying its inner complexity. The case is of 18 carat gold and decorated to the reverse and band with the most beautiful engine turning, the inner cover being signed in cursive script, Breguet. The watch retains its original ratchet key and double link gold chain. The dial is of solid silver and deserves close inspection to fully appreciate the genius of its design. Although apparently quite plain, there are no less than seven separate machining processes involved in its construction. The Roman numerals, minute divisions and signature are then engraved into the dial plate and wax filled, the whole being secured by a solitary screw above the VI. Finally, the dial is complemented by an exceptionally fine pair of blued steel moon hands made to Breguet’s exclusive design. The overall effect is breathtaking. On opening the back cover the movement is revealed in all its splendour. It is all that one would hope for from a fine Breguet and has survived in remarkably good condition. The various cocks and bridges are gilt, it has a ruby cylinder escapement with three arm balance, parachute shock protection and a bi-metallic compensation curb. The quarter repeat function acts on two gongs and is activated via the piston concealed in the stem. The mirror finish to the steel work is outstanding. The contrast between the simplicity of the exterior and the complexity of the movement is awe inspiring. Never has such masterpieces been perfected prior to the genius of Abraham Louis Breguet.
ABRAHAM LOUIS BREGUET (1747-1823) was born in Neuchatel, Switzerland and in 1762 was sent to France to commence his apprenticeship in Versailles. Very little is known of his early life up to 1787 when the books of the firm began and continue to the present day. His extraordinary ability in all branches of horology achieved for him the reputation of a genius, the patronage of kings and, most prized of all, the respect of the horological world. Among his clients, Breguet could number most of the crowned heads of the world including those of England, Russia, Spain, Tuscany, Holland, Naples, Bavaria and Westphalia. The heads of many aristocratic families were also patrons including Marie Antoinette, Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington.
TECHNICAL – This repeating watch is as slim as any contemporary timepiece, a feat achieved by some cunning design features first developed by Breguet. The wheels are slim but the teeth are short and broad which makes them as strong as those of any other watch. The repeat sounds on two coiled steel gongs which were developed by Breguet to take up far less room then the bells which preceeded them. Finally, the mainspring is of an extra large diameter which compensates for its reduced height. The creation of this watch required the skills of several dozen craftsmen, each a specialist in his own right. On completion the watch would have been inspected by Abraham Louis Breguet himself who is known to have been very much involved in the production of his watches.
A Breguet watch is not only an object of great beauty but also a masterpiece of miniature horological engineering. Surely in no other field has the human spirit succeeded in communing the arts and sciences with such perfection.
PROVENANCE:- Accompanying this watch is a copy of a certificate issued by the House of Breguet stating that his watch was bought on 29th January 1819 by Lord Dartmouth for 1400 Francs.
Dartmouth was the son of George Legge, 3rd Earl of Dartmouth by Lady Frances, daughter of Heneage Finch 3rd Earl of Aylesford. He was returned to Parliament as one of two representatives for Milborne Port at a by-election in January 1810. However, in November of the same year he succeeded his father in the earldom and took his seat in the House of Lords. He was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society on 7th November 1822. He was also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Lord Dartmouth was twice married. He married firstly Lady Frances Charlotte, daughter of Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 2nd Earl Talbot in 1820. Lady Frances died in October 1823, two months after the birth of their son and only child. Lord Dartmouth married secondly the Honorable Frances, daughter of Reverend George Barrington, 5th Viscount Barrington, in 1828. They had six sons and nine daughters. His children by his second wife included the Right Reverend Augustus Legge and Colonel Heneage Legge. The Countess of Dartmouth died in August 1849. Lord Dartmouth remained a widower until his death in November 1853 aged 68. He was succeeded in the earldom by his only child from his first marriage, William.
There is a portrait of William Legge, 4th Earl of Dartmouth in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
“To carry a fine Breguet watch is to feel that you have the brains of a genius in your pocket”, Sir David Salomons, Breguet connoiseur.
|Clock maker:||Abraham-Louis Breguet|
|Height:||Diameter 49.5 mm|