Calling all prestige watch and jewellery lovers. From now until the 8th of March, our Watches of Switzerland Sydney Boutique will be hosting an exclusive Breguet High Jewellery Exhibition. Open to the public, six exquisite fine jewellery timepieces from the Reine de Naples and High Jewellery collections will be on display. (And available for purchase, should the fancy take you.) Elaborate pieces that hark back to an era of opulence and exceptional craftsmanship, come and marvel at their breath-taking beauty and mind-bendingly complex construction. Truly pieces fit for a Queen.
While Breguet’s art is primarily expressed in watchmaking, the House also draws on its ancestral expertise in creating high Jewellery timepieces that appeal to the prestigious female clientele that has marked its history. Today, this history still yields a host of ideas for new creations, but the Manufacture also strives to spring fresh surprises with new techniques revolutionising the traditional approach to gem setting. For example, when Breguet introduced its mobile setting, it literally brought its creations to life. Today, the House is extending its Jewellery expertise into new areas to redefine the concept of elegance
In the early 19th-century, one of watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet’s best clients was a woman by the name of Caroline Murat (née Bonaparte, she was the young sister of Napoléon 1). Better known as the Queen of Naples. In fact, it was in response to a commission from her on June 8th, 1810, that Monsieur Breguet conceived and made the first wristwatch ever known, the Breguet watch number 2639. Described as “a repeater watch for bracelet”, the fee for its construction was an astonishing (for the time) 5,000 Francs.
Details of this original model are sparse, and there are no further records of it past 1855. However, the House of Breguet has determined that it was an exceptionally thin, oval repeater watch with complications, mounted on a wristlet of hair and gold thread. To pay homage to this important milestone in the brand’s history, it created the Reine de Naples ladies watch collection.
The Plumes collection draws its inspiration from the story of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France, wife of Louis XVI and the Breguet company’s effective ambassador for ladies’ jewellery watches. An avid writer, Marie-Antoinette used her pen to express the desire for freedom that pervades her correspondence. This universe led to the creation of very poetic timepieces that recall the featherweight delicacy of a quill pen. Presented in an oval-shaped 18-carat rose gold case, the bezel and flange of this Breguet High Jewellery piece is set with 94 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 2.42 cts). The crown meanwhile is set with a briolette diamond (approx. 0.28 ct) and the attachment is paved with 22 brilliant-cut snow-set diamonds (approx. 0.41 ct). The star attraction, however, is the Quill motif, paved with an eye-watering 21 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 0.42 ct), a claw-set trapeze-cut diamond (approx. 0.24 ct), as well as 81 brilliant-cut snow-set diamonds (approx. 0.96 ct). The dial is in engine-turned natural mother-of-pearl and features a chapter ring with Arabic numerals and a Breguet medallion inset at 12 o’clock. Breguet open-tipped hands in blued steel point to the hours and minutes. Inside, and visible through the sapphire caseback, is the self-winding movement Breguet Cal. 586/1, which is numbered and signed. This timepiece is worn on a satin strap with a folding clasp set with a further 26 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.14 ct).
In 1783, Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun painted a portrait of the queen of France entitled Marie-Antoinette with the rose. For this exquisite piece, Breguet’s artisans used the rose from the portrait as inspiration for a stunning shell cameo, a traditional craft from southern Italy consisting of carving a relief image on a shell. Presented in an oval-shaped 18-carat rose gold case, the ‘Secret de la Reine’ wristwatch keeps the time hidden away under this exquisitely detailed, hand sculpted cameo floral decoration. Appearing as an exceptional piece of high jewellery, the white flower can be gently moved aside to reveal the shimmering dial and its bow motif paved with 596 diamonds totalling approx. 3.64 cts. Hours and minutes are indicated by Breguet open-tipped hands in blued steel and a Breguet medallion is inset at 12 o’clock. The numbered and signed self-winding movement Breguet Cal. 586/1, sits inside and is visible through a sapphire caseback.
Inspired by the costumes worn by the Breguet company’s first female client, Queen Marie-Antoinette of France, this high jewellery piece recalls the elegant silks and ruffed lace of the period. The oval-shaped 18-carat white gold features frills set with a frosting of 193 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.07 cts), 11 baguette diamonds (approx. 0.35 ct) and two cushion-cut sapphires (approx. 0.59 ct). The bezel and case band are also set with 146 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 2.848 cts), while the flange is adorned with a further 66 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.132 ct) and the attachment paved with a frosting of 61 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.478 ct). The dial, in natural mother-of-pearl, is decorated with 20 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.02 ct). The Breguet medallion is inset at 12 o’clock, and steel-blued Breguet open-tipped hands point to Arabic numerals to indicate the time. Inside, and visible through the sapphire caseback, is the self-winding movement Breguet. Cal. 586/1, which is numbered and signed. This timepiece is worn on a satin strap with folding clasp set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds.
This special model pays homage to the Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, and a passionate art lover and a fervent admirer of Breguet’s work, who contributed to enriching the large collection of Breguet watches owned by the Bonaparte family. Inspired by a small tact watch acquired by the Empress in 1800, this dazzling model is regal in every sense of the word. Adorning the 18-carat white gold oval shaped case of this high jewellery piece is a miniature diamond and pearl necklace. Set with 23 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 4.12 cts) and an Akoya pearl, it is accented by a caseband set with a further 24 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.24 ct). The engine-turned mother-of-pearl dial is framed by a flange set with 66 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.13 ct). The time is shown on an offset chapter ring with diamond markers at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock and Breguet open-tipped hands in blued steel. Chaton settings incorporating 15 brilliant-cut diamonds beneath the prongs (approx. 0.93 ct), where a satin strap with a folding clasp set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.14 ct) meets the case. Inside, and visible through the sapphire caseback, is the self-winding movement Breguet Cal. 586/1, which is numbered and signed and controlled by the crown set with a briolette diamond (approx. 0.28 ct).
Possibly the most dazzling flower you will ever see, let alone strap to your wrist, the ‘Petite Fleur’ High Jewellery wristwatch is crafted from 18-carat yellow gold. Its caseband is set with 43 petals of diamond baguette on a mobile setting, totalling approx. 12.56 cts. While the snow-set inward-sloping dial itself is paved with 141 diamonds (approx. 0.52 ct), with the dial flange set with a further 48 diamonds, (approx. 0.10 ct). Time is displayed centrally by Breguet open-tipped hands in blued steel. Inside, and visible through the sapphire caseback, is the self-winding movement Breguet Cal. 586, which is numbered and signed.
This Reine de Naples wristwatch in 18-carat white gold is for those who prefer their High Jewellery pieces slightly more understated. The bezel and dial flange are set with 117 diamonds totalling approx. 0.99 ct., while the silvered, gold dial has been hand-engraved on a rose lathe and partly in-laid with Tahitian mother-of-pearl. In addition to the hours and minutes, the time display with Roman numeral chapter ring includes running seconds, phases of the moon and a power reserve indicator. All indications feature blue steeled hands. Inside, and visible through the sapphire caseback, is the self-winding Breguet Cal. 537 DRL1. This watch is worn on a distinctive white gold chain-link bracelet attached by lugs set with 22 diamonds (approx. 0.22ct.).
This exclusive exhibition is on display until the 8th of March and offers the rare opportunity to view some truly extraordinary High Jewellery timepieces by the House of Breguet. Visit us today at the Watches of Switzerland Sydney Boutique to experience their grandeur for yourself.