Breguet Celebrates the 200th Anniversary of the First Wristwatch, Which Doesn’t Exist-reine-de-naples2.jpg

At least nobody can find the wristwatch ordered by Caroline Murat, Napoleon’s sister and Queen of Naples, which was commissioned and delivered in 1812. Both Abraham-Louis Breguet the man (January 10, 1747 – September 17, 1823) and another talented horologist John Arnold worked on the piece. Breguet can confirm these facts from its archive. Nonetheless, Breguet will show a history of the model and take visitors on a journey of its enigmatic creation.
In Geneva, from January 16th to February 12th, 2012, Breguet will be paying tribute to the Queen of Naples, a serious watch lover with a particular penchant for Breguet. During the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), Breguet is holding an exhibition in the Cité du Temps celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first (some say precursor to) wristwatch.
Made for the Queen, the watch known as model No. 2639 has yet to appear publicly or in a private collection. You might remember the “Marie Antoinette” watch made for none other than Marie Antoinette. It took over 20 years! to complete and Breguet died before he could see the finished product.
This watch also did a disappearing act from the museum in Israel where it resided. The $30 million dollar horological masterpiece was stolen and later fortunately recovered. While the police investigated, the current company Breguet, owned by the Swatch group, took on the Herculean task of recreating the model, an astonishing exact replica with 23 complications.
Breguet the man is responsible for some of the most important improvements in horological history, including the Breguet balance spring, symapthique clock and the watch it synchronizes, and, of course, the tourbillon. He could be considered the first watchmaker to the stars. In the 19th century royalty ruled and everybody wanted to be invited to court and hobnob. Breguet’s clients included such renowned figures as Tsar Alexander I of Russia, George IV of England, Louis the XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette.
Over his lifetime Breguet and his workshops produced about 17,000 watches. I bet you didn’t know that each Breguet piece is unique. It’s because he applied such a level of detail to his watches and also experimented constantly.
Though the Queen of Naples watch remains a mystery, Breguet retraces its creation with a retrospective at the Cité du Temps, where visitors can discover the history in a refined feminine atmosphere. While women’s watches today do not drive the market, women used to be the largest customers. Interesting, no?
The exhibit also allows visitors to discover the current Reine de Naples collection, celebrating its 10th anniversary, which is an ode to Caroline Murat, as well as highlight some Haute Joaillerie pieces from the brand.

Article by: Meehna Goldsmith