Exhibition Breguet and the Louvre—An Apogee of European Watchmaking
from June 25, 2009 to September 7, 2009
Montre de souscription, Breguet n° 542. Collection Montres Breguet S.A.
© Collection Montres Breguet SA / Xavier Reboud
An Apogee of European Watchmaking
Through this retrospective of the works of Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), visitors to the Louvre discover the art of watchmaking at its apogee, evidenced by these unique precision timepieces, combining genius, virtuoso techniques and avant-garde aesthetics.
Assembled in the exhibition are exceptional loans – watches, clocks and measuring instruments – alongside portraits, archival documents and patents that span Abraham-Louis Breguet’s entire career.
An inventor at the court of Louis XVI
Born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Breguet completed his apprenticeship and studies in France from 1762 onwards. In 1775, at the age of 28, he married and managed to establish his own business on the Quai de l’Horloge, Paris. Watchmakers of the French capital then competed with Geneva and London in the field of scientific and artistic innovation. Breguet explored and perfected these inventions and complications. But he was not recognized as a Master Watchmaker until 1784.
These intervening years saw the gradual development of the automatic (or self-winding) watch and a timepiece with a repeater (or chiming mechanism). The first self-winding watches were purchased by Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and several highranking personalities at the court of Versailles. This led, in 1783, to Breguet receiving a commission for an extraordinary watch incorporating all the innovations and complications known at the time. The end result would be one of the most famous of all Breguet watches, No. 160, also called the “Marie-Antoinette”, which, after several lengthy interruptions, was eventually finished in 1827, i.e. four years after Abraham-Louis Breguet’s death.
These watches immediately reveal the originality of his style, characterized by functional simplicity, technical mastery and flawless craftsmanship. His flat watchcases, easily legible numerals, rectilinear hands and guilloched dials made Breguet watches both unique works of art and discreet, practical, everyday objects, unlike the ornate, ostentatious timepieces made in the last quarter of the 18th century.
This exhibition was mounted with the generous support of Montres Breguet S.A.
In a media partnership with Le Monde.
Organized by: Marc Bascou, curator, Department of Decorative Arts, at the musée du Louvre and Emmanuel Breguet, historian, specializing in the works of Breguet, at Montres Breguet S.A.
Practical informationVisitors information
Sully Wing, 1st floor
salle de la Chapelle
Opening times : daily except Tuesdays, 9am-6pm. Late-night opening until 10 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Admission : Access to the exhibition is included in the admission to the permanent collections of the museum
€9; €6 after 6pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.