THE ART OF BREGUET
Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, Apr 14, 1991
A Monsieur Groi
Watch No. 149bis, sold to London in February
Gold watch with dumb quarter-repeating and
Case: 18 ct., polished, two body, with invisible
hinges and fixed bezel, by Decombaz, No. 614.
Gilt metal cuvette hinged to the movement, and
signed: "Breguet, No. 149 bis", with instructions
for winding and hand setting. Protecting case
covered in green dyed fish-skin.
Dial: White enamel, by Decombaz, signed: "
Breguet à Paris", and on the back: No. 614, with
Arabic numerals. Gold Breguet hands.
Movement: Gilt brass, 21-, Lépine caliber, with
free standing barrel, wolf's-teeth, virgule
escapement, three-arm plain brass balance.
Blued-steel flat balance spring with index
regulator. Repeating on the case with a large
single polished hammer, by depressing the
In very good condition.
DIam. 62 mm.
CHF 50,000 - 60,000
Sold: CHF 63,250
Note: This watch is one of the very first made by
Breguet employing a bridge caliber, and is
virtually identical to the examples developed by
Jean Antoine Lépine. The illustrations shown
opposite are taken from plate 10 of the book by
Louis Moinet entitled: Nouveau Tmite General d'
Horlogerie, a book that was in fact being written
by Breguet before his death.
Moinet had been requested by Breguet in 1819 to
help him complete a book on horology that had
been under preparation for nearly 30 years. For a
time Moinet lived in an appartment provided at
Breguet's home, but was asked to move two
months before the master's death. He moved,
taking all the manuscripts and designs with him,
and the court battle for their return and
subsequent attempts by the family to prevent the
publication of the book endured for many years.
In the minutes of the clerk at the 12th District
Court in Paris, a judgement entered in 1825 at the
request of Antoine Louis Breguet states (in literal
translation of certain passages): "As far as the
manuscripts actually deposited with the clerk to
the Police Tribunal are annotated in the hand of
Monsieur Breguet, who was responsible for their
execution and their editing, along with the
accompanying explanatory text, all of which were
compiled at the residence of Monsieur Breguet,
by his designer, at his cost and under his
supervision... as far as all the facts and
circumstances prove and demonstrate that the
contested material is the property of the late
Monsieur Breguet and that if Moinet wished to
retain them or appropriate them for himself, it is
without rights or title and only through the abuse
It is therefore declared and demanded that the
said notes, manuscripts and papers...such as were
seized at the house of Monsieur Moinet, and
those that were found to be absent and part of the
work on horology in question, along with those
written or annotated in the hand of Monsieur
Breguet senior, and those written by Monsieur
Moinet will be returned to the plaintif...
furthermore the said Monsieur Moinet is required
to pay all costs, damages and interest...."
As a result of this judgement, Louis Moinet was
forced to return the manuscripts to Antoine
Louis Breguet. He had however managed to
retain copies of the majority of the material
which he published, despite the efforts of
Monsieur Guibal, an old friend of the family and
Monsieur Tredos, director of the workshops, to
prevent him. On the 5th of May 1843, Monsieur
Guibal wrote to Tredos:
"Monsieur Moinet announces himself as a
Collaborator with Breguet senior, and those who
read his book, particularly those abroad, will
naturally think that he was involved with all the
marvellous inventions of Monsieur Breguet, who
could therefore not have done without his talent
and cooperation in building up his reputation. It
seems only just and fair that the truth in this
matter should be made clear. Furthermore, in his
book, Monsieur Moinet disguises or ignores
completely all that Monsieur Breguet has done,
mentioning it only in passing, and after reading
this book you would in no way be aware of the
important inventions of Monsieur Breguet, nor
the great steps that he made in the advancement
of his art. Such conduct is unjust, jesuitic,
ungrateful... Anybody who bears the name
Breguet, should not stand for it in my opinion; I,
who do not bear the name, find myself
indisposed to stay silent, due to my respect and
friendship for all the Breguet family."
(Literal translation of excerpts from Monsieur