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Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, Apr 14, 1991


A Monsieur Groi Watch No. 149bis, sold to London in February 1792. Gold watch with dumb quarter-repeating and special escapement.

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 pendant.
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 of confidence. 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 Guibal's letter).