Breguet is a manufacturer of luxury watches, founded by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris in 1775. Since 1999 Breguet is part of The Swatch Group. Its timepieces are now (since 1976) produced in the Vallï¿½e de Joux in Switzerland. Breguet is one of the oldest surviving watch-making establishments and is the pioneer of numerous watch-making technologies, the most notable being the tourbillon, invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Breguet watches are often easily recognized for their coin-edge cases, guillochï¿½ dials and blue pomme hands (often now referred to as 'Breguet hands').
Born in Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1749, Abraham-Louis Breguet learned watch-making in Paris and studied mathematics. The young and ambitious Swiss man got his chance when he married the daughter of a wealthy Frenchman who gave her a large dowry.
He established the company in Paris. Breguet became famous with his invention of the automatic watch which he made for the Duke of Orleans. Soon he was making watches for the French aristocracy and inventing numerous mechanisms. These include the rewinding watch, the tourbillion, and the overcoil.
Queen Marie-Antoinette became fascinated by the rewinding mechanism and an admirer ordered a very advanced watch with many of Breguetï¿½s new inventions for her. Unfortunately, this wasnï¿½t finished until Abraham-Louis and the Queen had both died.
Breguet made the first wristwatch ever invented for Caroline Murat, the sister of Napoleon 1 and Queen of Naples in 1810. He became the watchmaker for the navy and was awarded the Legion of Honour by Louis XVIII.
After Abraham-Louis died in the company was taken over by his son, Antoine-Louis. Antoine-Louis drove the prestigious business into bankruptcy by letting sales and orders decline and debts pile up. His son, Louis-Clement, eventually took over. He invented the first electric clocks but decided to leave and concentrate on electric telegraphs and telecommunications. The business was sold to the English watchmaker, Edward Brown.
The next decades were difficult for the company which struggled to retain its luxury image. There was little invention except for the pocket watch with no traditional hand indicators. Sales declined during the First World War. In 1970 the company was sold to the Chaumet brothers who wanted it to become glamorous again and started ï¿½reinventingï¿½ the product so that they could return it to its former glory. Unfortunately they went bankrupt and the company fell victim to their troubles.
Breguet is now owned by the Swatch group and is the favourite brand of the chairman, Nicolas Hayek. Since it was acquired by the Swatch Group in 1999, Montres Breguet has rapidly moved into the world number one position in luxury watchmaking.
Today the brand is continuing to reinforce its dominant role in the development of watchmaking mechanics by devoting very significant investments to research and innovation, as well as to the actual Breguet manufacturing site, which has been enlarged and expanded with new facilities and infrastructure as well as sophisticated machinery. Emphasis has also been placed on recruiting highly qualified watchmakers. A team is ceaselessly working on the design and production of new models that interpret the brandï¿½s esthetic values in a novel manner, and on completely original mechanisms that will drive the timepieces of tomorrow. At the heart of the brandï¿½s strategy lies the perfecting, through synergies with the Swatch Group, of innovative manufacturing procedures. This demonstrates its historical capacity for constantly reinventing and revolutionizing watchmaking, in order to satisfy the requirements of its extremely sophisticated clientele. It was with this objective in mind that a prestige jewelry line was launched in 2002, with resounding success.
Since its incorporation into the Swatch Group, Breguet has seen its turnover increase considerably (whilst always retaining a limited production volume), and its international distribution become more effective and dynamic. The brand has also confirmed its position as a key player in Haute Horlogerie by opening Boutiques in the worldï¿½s most prestigious cities, for example Paris, Cannes, New York, Los Angeles, Geneva, London, Vienna, Seoul, Dubai and Tokyo.