Founded by Abraham-Louis in 1775 in Paris, Breguet is a swiss brand currently part of the Swatch Group (since Breguet’s bankruptcy in 1987). It is one of the oldest watch-making firm and one of the most innovative in the world. Breguet is no less than the inventor of the wrist-watch we all know and use nowadays.

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Breguet Watch Hands

Close to the royal court of Versailles, Breguet sold in 1780 the “Perpétuelle” – the first self-winding watch in history – to the Queen Marie Antoinette who was found of his work. He also invented the “Pare-chute shock protection technology” protecting watches from damage when dropped on the ground. Breguet wasn’t an admirer of fancy luxurious ornamentation but an innovator committed to pure and elegant design. He created the famous “Breguet watch hands” with apple-shaped tips and introduced Arabic numerals at a time when roman numerals where the norm. When Abraham-Louis died, his children perpetuated the tradition of the brand. His grandsons even participated in the spread of the telegraph and telephone across Europe.  In 1870 the Brown family took over the firm. The brand then developed its activities towards the aviation sector with the launch of “Breguet Aviation” in 1911 which later became “Dassault Aviation”. At the turn of the 20th century the company was producing top quality luxurious watches as well as military-grade watches and navigation instruments for airplanes.

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“Pare-chute” technology

In 1970 the jeweler Chaumet bought the company and shifted its activities towards low-cost quartz watches, which eventually led to the bankruptcy of the brand in 1987. In 1999 Nicolas G. Hayek acquired Breguet and decided to return to high quality exclusive watch-making. “When my grandfather took control of the brand, he had the vision to restore it to greatness by reviving its cultural and emotional dimensions,” says his grandson Marc A.Hayek. To do so he invested no less than 15 million Swiss francs. Breguet manufactures were once more capable of producing in-house movements with the brand signature invention called “le Tourbillon”. In 2005 as a tribute to Breguet’s debuts the brand decided to produce an identical copy of the watch sold to Marie Antoinette with the same techniques and materials. Today Breguet is an innovative brand known throughout the world devoting significant investments to R&D thus leading the future of tomorrow’s timepieces.

Jean Faussemagne

Illustration credits : http://www.breguet.com/fr

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