Breguet buys pocket watch for $1.12m at auction

One of the most complex watches to have been made by Breguet, the 1831 piece was ahead of its time

The Breguet Museum and CEO Marc Hayek announced the acquisition of three Breguet watches including the antique pocket watch number 4,691 at Christie's and Sotheby's auctions, respectively, on Monday November 11 and Tuesday 12, 2013.

Number 4,691 is a true piece of haute horlogerie history and was displayed by Sotheby’s as part of great collector Sir Richard Wallace’s estate. 

Sold for $1.12m, the pocket watch boasts a rich history and exceptionally large number of complications for a watch of its time.

Originally sold on October 13, 1831 to Lord Henry Seymour Conway, number 4,691 is one of the most complex watches to have been made by Breguet in such a slim case. The extra flat pair cased gold half quarter gold repeating pocket watch is 7.7 mm in thickness and displays equation of time, power reserve indication, calendar and moon phase based on chronometer principles.

Lord Henry Seymour Conway gave the watch to his brother, Richard Seymour Conway, 4th Marquis of Hertford and later, the timepiece was handed down to Sir Richard Wallace, the Marquis’ illegitimate son, along with his father’s fortune and art collection. The timepiece was put up for auction by the descendants of Sir Richard Wallace, who reportedly wore the watch until his death in 1890.

The watch soared above the estimated bidding price of $650,000 to $1.08m which helped bring Sotheby’s 2013 watch sales in Geneva a total of $19.1m.

Commenting on the results, Geoffroy Ader, head of Sotheby’s watch department in Europe said: “2013 marks the 190th anniversary of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s death. We are therefore extremely pleased that the Breguet Museum acquired this masterpiece of watchmaking which not only celebrates the genius of Breguet, the father of modern watchmaking but is also a testament to the eye of a great collector: Sir Richard Wallace. Today’s strong results and sale-through rates (84 percent by lot and 94.7 percent by value) underline the depth of the international watch market and the ever - growing demand for timepieces of the highest quality and rarity”.

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