The Breguet Origin
Born in Neuchâtel, Abraham-Louis Breguet would go on to pioneer significant technical and aesthetic innovations during his career, with his influence carrying through to the present day. The watchmaker spearheaded a number of inventions, including the over-coil hairspring and the tourbillon, which he first invented in 1795 and patented in 1801. It is no coincidence that he remains the most cited reference point for accomplished watchmakers centuries later, from George Daniels to François-Paul Journe.
The brand bearing his name enjoyed success during the 18th and 19th century, producing pieces for distinguished European figures, from King Louis XVI to Queen Marie Antoinette. As it moved into the 20th century, the brand dramatically changed its focus, principally producing pilot’s chronographs for the military. Though they occasionally made more classical timepieces - such as one of only three retrograde perpetual calendars from the 20th century - their focus was decidedly more utilitarian than Abraham-Louis Breguet had initially intended.
The Rebirth of Breguet
In 1970, Jacques and Pierre Chaumet took over Breguet, in the hopes of reinvigorating the brand and renewing the connection between the Breguet name and high-end watchmaking. Shortly thereafter, the brothers closed the French factory and moved production to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, the epicentre of Swiss watchmaking.
In order to restore the brand to its former glory, the brothers enlisted Daniel Roth, a watchmaker who had demonstrated his talent over seven years of working with Audemars Piguet. Roth was one of the only watchmakers who did not come from Le Brassus, the brand’s historic home. Inspired by the work of the famous watchmaker, Roth agreed to help resuscitate the manufacture, though only after studying the Breguet archives and techniques.
François Bodet, the director of the brand, and Roth worked together to define the Breguet aesthetic in wristwatch form, as well as introduce a range of new models and complications to their collection. The engine-turned dials, coin case and distinctive Breguet hands have become signature features of these pieces. From perpetual calendars to tourbillons, they embraced the high-end complicated watchmaking first personified by Abraham-Louis Breguet.
A Classic ref. 3237
The chronograph reference 3237 was one of the earliest pieces introduced by Breguet after it was resuscitated by the Chaumet brothers, integrating many of the design codes from the past, whilst also introducing new details.
This reference 3237 is encased in white gold, a rare iteration of the reference, which is more usually seen in yellow gold. The piece is typical of the Breguet style of wristwatches which Bodet and Roth helped cement. Classically sized at 36mm, it features straight lugs and a distinctive fluted middle section, reminiscent of a coin. The caseback displays the watch’s serial number, which matches the one displayed on the dial.
The design is that of a two-register chronograph, with contrasting textures throughout. The center of the dial features a sharply executed Clous de Paris pattern in a silvery grey colour. Meanwhile, the chronograph counter and running seconds sub dials feature an inner contrasting guilloché pattern, surrounded by another coin-like engraved chapter ring. The outer chapter ring is executed in a brushed silver, with Roman numerals printed in black. The subtle contrast in colour and finishing, as well as the layout on several levels, gives a satisfying depth to the design.
The dial is signed “BREGUET” at 12 o’clock and “N. XXXX” at 6 o’clock, where the watch’s unique number is displayed. The tradition of numbering watches on the dial appears to have been carried over from earlier wristwatches by Abraham-Louis Breguet. The Breguet hands, another visual inspiration from the watchmaker, are rendered in blue steel. As is typical of Breguet pieces from the period, the dial is also hand-finished.
The Lemania 2310 Ébauche
Assembled by hand in the brand’s Vallée du Joux workshop, this Breguet Chronograph ref. 3237 is powered by a finely-finished Lemania 2310 ébauche, which can also be found in the Patek Philippe 5070 and Roger Dubuis Hommage Chronographs. At the time of production of this piece, Breguet actually owned the Nouvelle Lemania manufacture, which they purchased in 1991.
The movement features a 21 jewel, straight-line lever escapement, a monometallic balance adjusted to 5 positions, a self-compensating Breguet spring and swan-neck micrometer regulator. Aesthetically, the calibre is finished to a very high standard. It features exquisite chamfering on all angles, polishing and decoration.
This Breguet Chronograph ref. 3237 comes with an outer box and an inner wooden box. It is accompanied by a saffiano strap in navy blue, in addition to the original black alligator strap from the manufacture and its white gold Breguet buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Breguet Chronograph reference 3237 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.