Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces

Hong Kong, Apr 25, 2021

LOT 138

Historical pocket watch, quarter-repeater, ruby-set cylinder escapement; “Répétition à ponts, boîte or”; 18K yellow gold

HKD 84,000 - 168,000

USD 10,800 - 21,600 / CHF 10,000 - 20,000

Sold: HKD 300,000

The Watch of Alexandre Berthier, 1st Prince of Wagram, Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel, Marshal of the Empire, Minister of War and chief of staff to Napoleon

18K yellow gold, open-face, key-winding, round-shaped, pocket watch, with special escapement and one horological complication:
  • Quarter-repeater by one hammer on one steel gong (activated by a pull-and-twist piston in the pendant)
Three-piece case “Empire” with guilloché (engine-turned) case-back and case-band. Case-back engraved in taille-douce (fine-cut) and black enamelled in champlevé with the cypher “A B”.

White enamel dial with suspended Breguet numerals and secret signature at 12 o’clock; blued steel Breguet hands. Counter enamel signed and numbered “Borel / 502”.

20’’’, gilded brass, going barrel, overhanging ruby-set cylinder escapement, monometallic balance with three arms (probably in gold) and blued steel flat hairspring, polished steel and blued steel index-regulator with temperature compensating bimetallic curb and pare-chute.

Grading System
Case: 3-8


Slightly scratched

Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-01


HANDS Original

Brand Breguet, Paris

Model “Répétition à ponts, boîte or”

Year Circa 1812-1813

Movement No. 2 261

Case No. 3 095 (by Pierre-Benjamin Tavernier, Paris)

Diameter 51 mm.

Caliber 20’’’, ruby-set cylinder escapement

Weight 100.9 gr. (approx.)

Signature Dial and cuvette (dome)


The Breguet Archives mention that this watch was sold to the “Prince de Neuchâtel”, on May 19, 1813, for the amount of 2 000 Francs.

At that time, it was Alexandre Berthier (1753-1815) who held this title. He was one of the most important figures in the Napoleonic epic.


Berthier, Louis-Alexandre
Versailles, November 20, 1753 – Bamberg, Upper Franconia, Bavaria (Germany), June 1st, 1815

Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel and Valangin, 1st Prince of Wagram, French General and later Marshal of the Empire, Minister of War and chief of staff to Napoleon.

Born of parents who were both in the service of the King, he became an engineer-geographer like his father and took part in the American War of Independence. A colonel in 1778, he joined the National Guard and later served as chief of staff under various generals, the most notable being Napoleon Bonaparte. Berthier took part under his orders in the Italian and Egyptian campaigns and supported the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire. Under the Consulate, he received the portfolio of the Ministry of War, which he held until 1807. When the imperial regime was established in 1804, Napoleon elevated him to the dignity of Marshal of the Empire and then made him Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel and Valangin in 1806.

As major-general of the Grande Armée – the equivalent of chief of staff – Berthier took part in all the campaigns of the Empire: he proved to be a talented officer, with a great capacity for work and an intuitive understanding of the Emperor’s intentions, of whom he was one of the main collaborators. However, he rarely exercised command on the battlefield, where he proved to be a poor strategist, as at the beginning of the Austrian campaign in 1809. He was made Prince of Wagram and Colonel General of the Swiss the same year, and remained at the Emperor’s side until the latter’s abdication in 1814. He then rallied to Louis XVIII who made him a Peer of France. Returning to his family in Bamberg, he died defenestrated there, in circumstances that are unclear, on June 1st, 1815.

His death, which occurred shortly before the Battle of Waterloo, affected Napoleon, who said of him: “Nul autre n’eût pu le remplacer” (No one else could have replaced him).


Portrait of Louis-Alexandre Berthier (1753-1815), Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel and Valangin, 1st Prince of Wagram, Marshal of the Empire, here wearing the uniform of Grand Veneur, 1804-1808, by Jacques-Augustin Pajou (1766-1828) (Versailles, Château of Versailles; oil on canvas; H. 215 cm / W. 133 cm)