MARINE CHRONOMETER Breguet et Fils à Paris No. 4890 1834 France
Signed and numbered: Breguet et Fils à Paris No. 4890
The two-day spring-driven movement has an Earnshaw detent escapement with compensation balance. The balance has regulation screws in the rim. Combined with a helical spring all these aspects work together to achieve a high level of accuracy. The movement is wound from the bottom. The escapement is numbered 213.
The silvered brass dial has two chapter rings. The upper ring has Roman hour numerals with Arabic ten-minute, five-minute and minute divisions. The time is indicated by a fine pair of blued-steel spade hands. The lower ring is a seconds ring which has Arabic ten-seconds, five-seconds and seconds divisions. The seconds are indicated by a counter-balanced blued-steel seconds hand. The dial is signed and numbered: Breguet et fils N 4890.
The brass movement bowl is gimballed in a mahogany case. The Breguet winding key is situated in the right top corner. The gimbals can be secured with a lever in the right bottom corner. The case has two brass drop carrying handles to the sides and a lock at the front. The top tier of the case has a glazed inspection port in the top panel with a wooden slide, which can be closed. This allows the time being ascertained without opening the case. The panel has a lozenge-shaped brass inlay with the number of the chronometer No 4890.
This chronometer was sold to Monsieur Ducom, the representative of Breguet in Bordeaux, on 1 April 1834 for the price of 1800 French Francs.
Duration 2 days
Diameter dial 9 cm.
Dimensions case 17 x 20 x 18 cm.
– H.M. Vehmeyer, Antieke uurwerken, een familieverzameling, Houten, 1994, p. 550 and p. 598.
– Breguet Part I no. 1 – 2827
Abraham-Louis Breguet was born in Neuchatel (Switzerland) in 1747. He was apprenticed from 1762-1767 as a watch maker, probably in Versailles with Lépine and/or Berthoud. In 1768 he, his parents and his sisters moved to Paris. There he followed evening classes in mathematics at the Collège Mazarin. In 1775 he married Cécile-Marie-Louise L’Huillier (born in 1752). In the same year the young married couple started a business at Quai d’Horloge 51, now No.79, close to Pont Neuf, in the middle of the clockmakers area. This can be regarded as the foundation date of the House Breguet. In 1787 he went into partnership with Xavier Gide, a watch dealer in Paris, an association that lasted until 1791. On 12 August 1793 Breguet, together with his wife and son Louis-Antoine returned to Switzerland, escaping the troubles of the Revolution, first to Genève, then to Neuchatel and finally to Le Locle. Op 10 April 1795 they decided to go back to Paris as the situation had established itself and settled at their old address at the Quai d’Horloge. The years that followed until his death in 1823 were the most fruitful of his life. In 1807 his son Antoine joined the business. He had followed part of his education with John Arnold in London. Breguet made several inventions, including the Breguet winding key (which cannot be turned the wrong way), various improvements of watch escapements, the ‘montre perpétuelle’, the Tourbillon, the ‘pendule sympathique’, the ‘montre à tact’, also called the ‘montre aveugle’ and the ‘heures sautantes’. He died in Paris on 3 September 1823.
Marine chronometers: In 1815 Abraham-Louis was nominated supplier of the Ministry of the Navy and from this moment he signed his clocks ‘Breguet et Fils’ with the addition ‘Horloger de la Marine Royal’, followed by the number. This system was maintained until c. 1850. Before his appointment Horloger de la Marine Royal in 1815 Breguet showed little interest in the production of chronometers. The few made before 1815 have an experimental character. The oldest number known is No.106, sold in 1806. After 1815 things changed and in 1822 the business had produced some 80 chronometers. Only a few were supplied to the Ministry. The dials are made of silvered brass, which is almost white in appearance, according to a process now known as ‘dead-silvering’. The signature and the number are invariably engraved in italics. Chronometers wound from above – the winding holes have brass covers – are often early in their series. There is often a letter code above the chapter ring; George Daniels is of the opinion that this was a way of identification for the Ministry. The number on the dial is also marked on the case and the winding key. Most Breguet chronometers are of two-day duration but in practice should be wound every day. There is no chronometer quite the same as another. They are perfectly constructed and produced and are usually in solid mahogany cases with brass fittings and a Breguet key.