Silver cased chronometer with tourbillon and spring-detent escapement

London, England, 1774 and Paris, France, AD 1808

Tourbillon watch by Arnold and Breguet

In spite of the troubled times caused by England's war with France after the French Revolution (1789-1792), Abraham-Louis Breguet managed to visit London in the 1780s. He was introduced to John Arnold, one of the leading chronometer makers of the time. The mutual admiration which grew between the men, two of the most inventive horologists of the time, was demonstrated by Arnold sending his son, John Roger Arnold, to work with Breguet. The younger man worked with Breguet at the Quai l'Horloge, Paris for two years between 1792 and 1794.

Such was the relationship between the Arnold and Breguet families that fourteen years later, in 1808, Abraham-Louis Breguet sent this converted piece to John Roger Arnold as a gift. Breguet's work is based on an original piece by John Arnold (pocket chronometer no. 11). John Roger Arnold probably took the piece with him to Paris, perhaps as a gift for Breguet from his father. Between 1792 and 1794, Breguet added his new revolving carriage, which he called a tourbillon, to the chronometer. The tourbillon constantly changed the position of the escapement and balance to minimise timekeeping errors caused by changes in the watch's position. The movement is housed in an engine-turned silver drum-shaped box made by Tavernier, who also made the engine-turned silver dial.

To commemorate the gift to John Roger Arnold, Breguet added a plate inscribed '1ER REGULATEUR A TOURBILLON DE BREGUET RÉUNI A UN DES PREMIERS OUVRAGES D'ARNOLD. HOMMAGE DE BREGUET, A LA MÉMOIRE RÉVÉRÉE D'ARNOLD, OFFERT A SON FILS AN 1808' - 'The first tourbillon regulator by Breguet incorporated in one of the first works of Arnold. Breguet's homage to the revered memory of Arnold. Presented to his son in 1808'.

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More information


G. Daniels, The art of Breguet (London, Sotheby, Parke, Burnett, 1975)

R. Meis, Das Tourbillon: Faszination de (Munchen, Verlag Laterna magica, 1986)

A.G. Randall (revised by R. Good), Catalogue of watches in the -1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Diameter: 5.930 cm

Museum number

M&ME CAI 1848


Ilbert Collection


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