|Famous for||Created the first ever wristwatch for Caroline Murat, the sister of Napoleon|
Born in the Swiss town of Neuchâtel, Abraham-Louis Breguet spent most of his life in Paris. Founding Breguet in 1775, his career started with a series of breakthroughs: the development of successful self-winding perpetual watches, gongs for repeating watches and the first tourbillon patented in 1801. For more than 300 years, his elegant watches have featured a number of unmistakable Breguet signatures – hollow ‘moon tip’ hands, Arabic numerals and fluted case bands.
His timepieces soon came to rule the fashions of the courts of Europe – early fans included King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, and he created the world’s very first wristwatch as a special commission for Caroline Murat, the sister of Napoleon.
Other famous patrons include Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, and Tsar Alexander I. In 1807, Breguet took on his son Louis-Antoine as his business partner (renaming the firm Breguet et Fils), and the watch company continued in the hands of the family until Breguet’s great-great-grandchildren passed the business on to the English watchmaker Edward Brown in the late 19th century. The Brown family ran the company until it was acquired by the Swatch Group in 1999.
Even in the 1700’s, Breguet’s success made his timepieces a target for counterfeiting. To combat this, Breguet watches are engraved with a secret signature – invisible to the naked eye, the Breguet signature is etched on the dial and only visible in oblique light.