Watchuseek Blog

Friday, January 6, 2012

Breguet's salute to the 200th anniversary of the first wristwatch

From January 16th to February 12th 2012, Breguet is paying tribute to the Queen of Naples through an exhibition held in Geneva’s Cité du Temps.

The exhibition celebrates the 200th anniversary of the creation of the first wristwatch in horological history, ordered in 1810 by Caroline Murat, sister of Napoleon and Queen of Naples, and delivered in 1812.

Moreover, Breguet is also taking the opportunity to immortalise the 10th anniversary of its stellar Reine de Naples ladies’ watch collection.

An ardent admirer of the timepieces produced by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the Queen of Naples nurtured a passion for his eminently artistic mechanical creations, and ordered a number of watches from him, including the first wristwatch.

The N° 2639 model made for Caroline Murat has not yet been found and thus remains an enigma. It is not mentioned in any private or public collection.

Nonetheless, the Breguet company archives have made it possible to retrace this historical retrospective of the creation of this extra special wristwatch.

Caroline Murat

From 1808 up to 1814, the ambitious and very beautiful Queen of Naples easily took pride of place among Breguet’s most favoured clients. As the younger sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, she reigned with her husband the king, Joachim Murat, from 1808 to 1815, and the special relationship which she fostered with Breguet during this time produced the first watch specially designed to be worn on the wrist.

Commissioned in 1810, paid for in 1811 and delivered in 1812, it was revolutionary in conception: an ultra-thin repeating watch, oblong in shape, equipped with a thermometer and mounted on a wristlet of hair entwined with gold thread.

No difficulty was too great for Breguet to overcome in his determination to satisfy Queen Caroline, and he was to be duly rewarded.

The exhibition in the Cité du Temps helps visitors to discover the history of this timepiece and its fascinating mysteries.

The discovery of the contemporary Reine de Naples collection by Breguet also affords a wealth of surprises thanks to the authentic horological expertise it expresses.

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