- Museum number
Quarter-repeating watch with pedometer wind.
Later engine-turned silver dial.
Blued steel Breguet hands.
Engine-turned gold case (possibly later).
Pedometer wind, parachute suspension for the balance, temperature compensation curb.
- Production date
- Curator's comments
- Comment from Richard Good, Catalogue of Watches in the British Museum. Vol. V (Unpublished manuscript)
Made by Abraham Louis Breguet
Paris, ca. 1787
Gold cased lever watch with an early form of ratchet tooth escapement, pedometer wind and quarter repeat mechanisms.
Signature: Around the edge of the movement: 'Inventé par Breguet à Paris No 46 Quai de l'Horloge NoHS65'. The letters 'HS' also punched twice into the dial side of the front plate.
Case: Red gold case, the band and back decorated with fine engine-turning. Pump pendant to operate the quarter repeating work retained by a steel plate and four screws inside the case. The banking springs for the pedometer weight also fixed inside the band of the case. Only the front of the case opens, the back is fixed. There is no inner dome or cuvette. A roller on the pedometer weight bears against the back of the case. The only mark inside the case is 65 above a letter B.
Dial & Hands: A silver engine turned dial with Roman numerals, subsidiary seconds dial and a subsidiary sector dial for up-and-down indication. Blued-steel moon hands, blued-steel seconds and up-and-down hands.
Dial-Plate: None intended.
Dust-Cap: None intended.
Ebauche marks: None.
Frame: A full plate construction, the back plate supported by five turned pillars, and secured by screws. The back plate is pierced with holes for the escapement, the winding work and the mainspring barrels. There are also a number of holes in the plates to enable the mesh of the gearing to be checked visually.
Barrel & Mainspring:
Barrel: Twin going barrels, the one furthest from the pendant with a form of Geneva stop work on the cover end. The barrel arbor is allowed to turn during winding for a maximum of three turns relative to the barrel. A raised part of the stop piece then contacts a spring lever and applies the catch to hold up the pedometer weight. The reserve of going is some sixty hours.
Barrels: internal diameter 14.0 mm, height 2.0 mm.
Mainsprings: height 1.8 mm, thickness 0.15 mm.
Barrel Arbors: diameter 4.6 mm, not snailed.
Going train: Twin great wheels drive a common intermediate wheel. The rest of the train is standard with high count pinions. All the wheels have four crossings.
Jewelling: The cone shaped balance pivots run in blind holes in small discs of ruby set in springy steel arms. This is an early example of Breguet's elastic or 'parachute' suspension to protect the balance pivots of the watch should it receive a shock. The staff is actually held without endshake between these elastic suspensions. Stop pieces are provided to limit the possible axial movement of each suspension.
Escapement: A straight line layout ratchet tooth lever escapement (with all the lift on the pallets). There is no draw since the locking faces are radial. The teeth of the brass escape wheel are thin and delicate, and further weakened by slotting for oil retention. This has resulted in one tooth being broken of and another badly damaged. The fork and roller action is similar in appearance to a Savage type two pin arrangement. Two gold pins are set in the heart shaped end of the fork, and work with a polished steel impulse pin. Banking for the lever is effected by a slot in the counterpoise fork tail which butts against the escape wheel arbor. Safety action is provided by a small gold roller with passing hollow, and the pointed end of the heart shaped fork. The steel pallets are provided with inset jewels.
Balance and Spring: A gold three arm balance located between the dial and the front plate; balance diameter 15.2 mm, thickness 0.55 mm.
A blued-steel spiral spring without terminal curve, the last turn taken out well clear of the rest to work with a regulator and pinned to a block on the front plate.
Thermal compensation: This is combined with the regulator. The regulator lever is pivoted in a frame between the plates. One end carries the index pins, the other has a slot for a pin, at the free end of the double bimetallic strip approximately concentric with the balance. The other end of the bimetallic strip is fixed to a carriage by an adjustable block to alter the amount of compensation. If the bimetallic strip is moved towards the balance centre its effect will be increased and vice-versa. The carriage has an integral toothed sector, gearing with a toothed wheel pivoting on a shoulder screw. This wheel has a piece cut out which acts as a stop with a peg in the front plate. The worm meshing with the teeth of this wheel has a short square section on the end passing through the distance piece on the edge of the movement. By turning this with a key, the watch can be brought to time. The bimetallic strip also causes the index to move with the changes in temperature.
Train counts and Beat Rate:
Great wheels 90 teeth on each (barrels)
Intermediate wheel 35 pinion 10
Centre wheel 64 pinion 18
Third wheel 60 pinion 8
Fourth wheel 60 pinion 8
Escape wheel 20 pinion 8
Beat rate: 18,000
Great wheel 58 (barrel)
Second wheel 36 pinion 7
Third wheel 34 pinion 7
Fourth wheel 31 pinion 7
Fifth wheel 29 pinion 7
Fly pinion 8
Motion work: cannon pinion 10
minute pinion 8, minute wheel 30
hour wheel 32
Repeating Work: On depressing the pendant the repeating mainspring is wound by a chain passing onto a pulley on its arbor. The hours are sounded by teeth on a steel three-arm wheel carried on the repeating mainspring arbor and the quarters by further teeth on this wheel, all acting on a single hammer. All or nothing work is incorporated, acting on the lifting piece on the hammer arbor. A spring for the all-or-nothing work has been removed.
The number of hour blows struck is controlled by a cam on a star wheel indexed at each hour by a piece on the cannon pinion. This part of the mechanism operates in the usual way for watch repeating work. The number of quarters repeated is controlled by a cam on the cannon pinion and a rack with three teeth. This rack is gathered by a block on the pivoted steel plate to which the end of the winding chain is attached. One of the three teeth touches the lifting piece in its path and moves the hammer lifting piece out of the path of the teeth on the three-arm steel wheel. Striking on a square section gong mounted on the inside of the case band. A spring for the all-or-nothing work has been removed.
Up-and-Down Indicator: The barrel nearest to the pendant has an extended threaded arbor on the cover end, on which runs a threaded steel disc with four slots. A peg set in the barrel cover passes through one of the slots and prevents the disc from turning. However when the barrel turns during running, or the arbor during winding, the steel disc moves up or down the threaded arbor. During the winding the disc moves away from the barrel and during running, towards it. A pivoted arm has one end in contact with the top of the disc and the other in contact with a spring loaded cam on the arbor carrying the indicator hand. When fully wound the watch has a maximum reserve of going of some sixty hours.
Winding Mechanism: The up and down movement of the pedometer weight is limited by two springs inside the band of the case. Cat. no. 5 (registration no. 1958,1201.275) has only one of these springs. The pedometer weight does not normally touch either the back plate or the inside of the back of the case. However a pivoted steel roller on the on the outside of the weight, and a polished steel screw on the back plate prevent the weight from rubbing on the back of the case or the back plate, if the weight should be thrown against either. This refinement is absent in cat. no. 5.
Case: diameter 50.8 mm, height 18.4 mm.
Movement: front plate diameter 46.3 mm; back plate diameter 43.6 mm, frame height 5.1 mm.
Provenance: Formerly in the Ilbert Collection. Purchased by Ilbert from Louis Desoutter in 1934.
Exhibited: Musée International d'Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, May-September 1976; see 'L'Oeuvre D'Abraham Louis Breguet', La Chaux de Fonds 1976, pp.24-25.
George Daniels, 'The Art of Breguet', 1974, p.139, ill.68 a-c.
Emmanuuel Breguet, Breguet, Watchmakers since 1775, 1997, p.48.
According to Emmanuel Breguet in Breguet Watchmakers since 1775, this watch was one of the first Breguet watches to have an engine-turned dial and was sent to Marie-Antionette at the beginning of 1787. George Daniels, in The Art of Breguet, however believes the dial and case to be later replacements and this supposition may well explain the reference in the Breguet archives to work on the watch which started 2 August 1791 and was completed 12 September 1791 when the bill was paid by Breguet's partner Xavier Gide. The evidence certainly suggests that all the early perpetuelles had white enamel dials and there are a number of examples of watches being up-graded by Breguet with the new fashion guilloché dials and cases in the early part of the 19th century.
The Marie Antoinette connection is now proven to be wrong. The watch is not No. 46 which is Breguet's address at Quai de L'horloge. The case number B65 confirms the watch to be No. 65 and Breguet's records refer to second series no. 65 as a 'repetition perpetuelle' having been returned to Paris by a Mr. Fornachon on 20th August 1794 from a Mr.? Gray. A further reference says 'has been lost'. [DRT 2 April 2004. Information provided by Sebastian Whitestone].
- On display (G39/dc14/no52)
- Exhibition history
1976 15 May-20 Sep, Switzerland, La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Musee Internationale d'Horologie, Abraham-Louis Breguet (?)
- Latest: 4 (1993). The extended third wheel arbor is broken so that the seconds hand can no longer be attached to the watch.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Following the successful acquisition of the celebrated Ilbert collection of clocks (1958,1006 collection), prints and other related materials made possible by the generous donation of funds by Gilbert Edgar CBE Ilbert's watches were then acquired using funds provided by Gilbert Edgar, public donations and government funds.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: CAI.3132 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: N268 (Ilbert Ledger)