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Watch Collecting is proud to offer only the second example of the platinum edition ever to come to auction.

7 Messidor, year IX, was a notable date in France. Better known to the rest of the world as June 26, 1801, the French were now following the new Revolutionary calendar introduced in 1793 and abandoned in 1805. Not only did it remove royalist and religious references, but it was also part of the drive to decimalise Europe having 10 hours in the day, 10 days in the week and 10 months in the year. On this day Breguet patented the tourbillon, a device that has gone on to define horological expertise and gathered a new life and following in the post-quartz rise of mechanical wristwatches.

2005 Breguet 1801

Initially proposed by English watchmaker John Arnold, it took Breguet’s genius to realise his friend’s idea and bring it to life. Created for the pocket watch, as wristwatches were still a century away from serial production, the tourbillon allowed a watch, carried in the upright position, to equalise the effects of gravity on the rate of the movement and so allow more stable timekeeping. A secondary, more prosaic, and often overlooked benefit was that it evened out the wear around the pinions and their bearings as well as the distribution of oil within the escapement.

Often referred to as a complication, the tourbillon is not one, adding no additional functionality to the watch. Rather it is a complex addition to the watch’s escapement to allow greater accuracy.

Breguet 1801

In 1999, Swatchgroup, the creation of another horological genius Nicolas Hayek, purchased Breguet from Investcorp. Hayek took over the brand as his own personal project and determined to breath new life into the brand and to reveal the amazing history and accomplishments of its founder. 2001 marked the 200 year anniversary of the tourbillon and to mark the occasion, Breguet produced a very special watch.

Conceived as a half-hunter case, the front cover was engine-turned in a traditional barleycorn pattern with an oval plaque engraved ‘Tourbillon’. The dial was visible through the port-hole in the upper part of the cover. Pressing the release button in the crown revealed the full dial set into a Geneva-striped top plate with the one minute tourbillon beneath. The seconds hand was mounted on the top of the tourbillon carriage. The years 1801 and 2001 were picked out in gilt engraving to either side of the tourbillon. On the inside of the cover was the signature of Nicolas G. Hayek, a facsimile signature of Breguet and the limited edition number. The sapphire case back revealed the hand-engraved movement plate and a rear view of the tourbillon. The movement, calibre 557, had 21 jewels and a 50 hour power reserve. The case had the traditional coin-edge case middle and individually soldered lugs.

Only 66 were ever produced

A total of 66 watches were produced as part of this limited series, 28 in white gold, 28 in pink gold and 10 in platinum.

Watch Collecting is proud to offer only the second example of the platinum edition ever to come to auction. The last of the series, number 10 of 10, the watch is offered in immaculate condition with the protective sticker still in place to the rear. The strap is unmarked. Also included in the sale is the specially decorated anniversary box, warranty papers and commemorative loupe.

Follow the link to view the 2005 Breguet 1801 watch auction, which ends from 3:50pm BST 2nd September 2021.

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