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Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823)

Abraham-Louis Breguet was perhaps the most celebrated of all French clock and watchmakers. He was born to Jonas-Louis Breguet and Suzanne-Marguerite Bollein at Neuchâtel in Switzerland on 10 January 1747.

After his father's death in 1758, Abraham-Louis' mother remarried Joseph Tattet, who came from a family of watchmakers. Tattet had a showroom in Paris and in 1762 the boy was sent there to be apprenticed to an unknown master as a watchmaker. Breguet was allowed to marry in 1775 after finishing his apprenticeship. He and his bride, Cécile Marie-Louise L'Huillier, set up home and business at 39 Quai de l'Horloge in Paris. Within ten years Breguet had commissions from the aristocratic families of France and even the French queen, Marie-Antoinette. Cécile died in 1780 and in 1787 Abraham-Louis established a partnership with Xavier Gide, which lasted until 1791.

During the stormy years of the French Revolution (1789-92), Breguet went into exile in Geneva. His associations with the French monarchy and aristocracy made him a likely target. In 1795, however, Breguet returned to Paris with many ideas for innovations in watch and clock making. He set up business again in Quai de l'Horloge and quickly established a reputation among the new wealthy classes in the Empire. Breguet did not man his workshops in the traditional way, with unskilled apprentices. Instead, he sought out the finest available craftsmen in Paris, who he employed to make watches to his own designs. In the early 1800s Breguet took his son, Louis-Antoine, as a business partner after having sent him to London to study with the great English chronometer maker, John Arnold. Such was the mutual friendship and respect between the two men that Arnold, in turn, sent his son, John Roger, to spend time with Breguet.

The business grew from strength to strength and when Abraham-Louis Breguet died in 1823 it was carried on by Louis-Antoine and has an unbroken tradition until today.

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