Breguet 1/4 Repeater

Ralph

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This is another watch I bought many years, in fact 2000. I've always wondered about it. I cannot detect a secret signature, but I think it is later and I'm not sure when that ended, if it did. I always thought it a nice watch, but wondered if it actually came through Breguet's workshop.

It is not a hanging cylinder, but does have the parachute protection, as well as the temperature compensation curb. I believe it has a ruby cylinder, but have never checked. It also has square gongs and pull/twist/plunge activation for the repeat. It's about 58mm in diameter.

I think the hallmark on the case puts it in the 1819-1838 range.

Ralph

img_20210413_115429054a.jpg img_20210413_115504564a.jpg img_20210413_115604360a.jpg img_20210413_115639883a.jpg img_20210413_115714070a.jpg img_20210413_115835184a.jpg img_20210413_115842739a.jpg img_20210413_115845849a.jpg
 
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agemo

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Hi,
The secret signature on the dial has existed since 1795 and is still used today.
For enamel dials I don't know if there is a secret signature, your number 3882 seems good, you can ask for a certificate of authenticity but it costs 535 Euros.
This is just me, but your watch is in my opinion authentic.
The contact form if you are interested : Montres anciennes | Breguet

Amicalement GG
 

Ralph

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Girard, thank you for your comments.

Regards, Ralph
 

Ralph

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Philip,

Even looking at it with a loupe, it is difficult to make out, but guessing, it might be C D.

1618502362231.png

Ralph
 

Philip Poniz

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This narrows it down considerably. Is the SN 3882? What is inside of the octagonal mark? Is it an eagle or a rooster? Is there a mark in the very middle of the bird?
 

Ralph

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Philip, yes the serial number is 3882. I think the hall mark is the one circled in red. There is a "3" inside the octagon at about the 10 o'clock position.

1618520963076.png

Ralph
 
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agemo

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This narrows it down considerably. Is the SN 3882? What is inside of the octagonal mark? Is it an eagle or a rooster? Is there a mark in the very middle of the bird?
Hi,
It is a sphinx with 3 left side at 9 o'clock in an octagon this punch is the punch of department for the gold third track 750 thousandth, in use from 1819 to 1838.

Amicalement GG
 

agemo

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The diamond hallmark of master goldsmith, a double hook or an anchor perhaps a letter on each side C and ?
I did some research but found nothing.

Amicalement GG
 

Philip Poniz

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BREGUET FAKES

One of the favorite targets of forgers was Abraham-Louis Breguet. Emmanuel Breguet wrote that the fake Breguet watches far outnumber the real ones. According to an oft-quoted saying, of a hundred watches bearing the signature Breguet, Breguet à Paris, or Breguet et Fils, only one is genuine. There are even watches made before Breguet's birth, that were later signed with his name!

The most common Breguet fakes are medium-quality watches with verge escapements, sometimes with quarter‑hour repeater mechanisms. However, occasionally one can find some Breguet fakes of high quality, sometimes even of very high quality.

Breguet, except for his earliest pieces, never signed his watches Breguet à Paris. Everyone knew where he was from. Only fakes were signed so. Your watch falls into this category.

Many Breguet watches were renumbered and reentered in the register, but not necessarily the same one. So, it might be a little confusing sometimes to place Breguet’s serial number in the proper series.

There are some later watches signed “Breguet a Paris”, such as, for example, 806, 2781, 2782, 3330, or 4775. However, they all come from that category of early watches, already signed “Breguet a Paris”, bought back, refurbished, put into a modern case, renumbered, and resold.

For the cases of his watches, Breguet used only a few casemakers: Amy Gross, Gustave Mermillod, Jean Joly, Pierre-Benjamin Tavernier, and, on rare occasions, Jeanneret, Bapst, or Secheret. They all worked in Paris. They all marked their cases with their hallmarks, so if one finds a case marked by someone else, in all likelihood, it is not a Breguet, or, at best, it is a recasing job.

Your watch, which comes from outside Paris (the Sphinx mark denotes 18k gold items made outside Paris), is one example.

The Sphinx also dates the watch as far as after 1819. This is consistent with the serial number, which, if Breguet’s, would start its life in 1821.

Another element consistent with the real Breguets is the off-center dial. Breguet began making eccentric dials around 1820. There was a reason for that eccentricity – it allowed Breguet to install larger mainspring barrels. Those dials were all of silver.

Before I continue on that eccentricity, I need to point out an oddity of the watch:

The watch does not have a hand indicating seconds. Yet, it has a special extra pinion (or a space for one) installed opposite of the pendant for the seconds (the circled one).

IMG_20210413_1158427391.jpg



The train goes 1→ 2→ 3→ 4→ the escape wheel. The O has nothing to do with the going train! Breguet preferred to install seconds hand at any place on the dial he found convenient, sometimes at 3 o’clock, sometimes at 4,7, etc. Although he did come up with an arrangement on a few occasions as in this watch, in those cases, without exception, the dial had an aperture for the seconds’ hand.

Your watch has no technical reason for the dial having an off the center chapter. The barrel is relatively small and the ebauche (probably Japy’s) is constructed just to accommodate the eccentricity of the chapter.

As I mentioned above, the 1820’s eccentric chapter Breguets always had silver dials. About 20 years later though, the successors, Breguet Neveu, began using off-center chapters on enamel dials.

In 1821, the signature on dials was Breguet et Fils, not as on your watch, which just has “BREGUET” only. This would be consistent with the successors (started 1833) who used just “BREGUET” as the signature.

All the above indicate that your watch was sold in the 1830’s, maybe even 1840’s, faking Breguet watches of the time.

As for the Sphinx mark, it is worth recalling that the order of 1835 to redesign French hallmarks (with the implementation date 1838) was, in a large degree, because of the abundance of fake marks found in the second part of the 1820s and at the beginning of the 1830’s.

Sir David Salomons, an English collector, who assembled the biggest private collection of Breguet watches, wrote: “...in the course of manufacture, many [Breguet] watches were started and advanced more or less and then, for some reason, thrown aside. These were taken away by workmen, finished on their own account and sold. Parts were sold to dishonest persons who finished the watches in a very different manner and sold them to the ignorant as genuine. This is why it is often difficult to judge, because a part of the work may appear right and part wrong. Likewise, some clever people thought they could improve upon Breguet, and ‘modernize’ a watch of his. A large number of fine specimens have been destroyed in this way.”

I can only add that since Breguet bought most of his ebauches from his ebauche makers, located on the most part in Switzerland, it is quite possible that some of those ebauches found their way into the hands of those “dishonest persons”, to use Salomons’s words.

I would not dismiss the hypothesis that on occasion, Breguet sold just a movement to a special client. For instance, in 1988, Antiquorum sold a quarter‑hour repeater with a Breguet overhanging ruby cylinder, striking on one gong, signed Wenham, which I am pretty sure houses a Breguet movement. Wenham was Breguet’s agent in St. Petersburg. Another example is Breguet No. 4987. Breguet sold the movement to Baron Schickler, who had a case made later, probably in his fatherland, Germany. Since Schickler bought about twenty watches from Breguet over the years, such a special treatment might have been warranted.

Let’s hope that your Fatton is from this category. As for your “BREGUET”, it undoubtedly is one of Breguet fakes with a twist of having a nonfunctional extra pinion.

PHILIP PONIZ
 

Ralph

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Philip,

Thanks again for your critique of one of my watches. Though I naively bought it, thinking it was a real Breguet, looking through Geroge Daniels book, The Art of Breguet, David Salomen's catalogues and other references, it bothered me that I could not find a similar ebauche. So, I was suspicious.. ;)

Best regards, Ralph
 

Dr Z

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How does the establishment mixe watches fit into this puzzle and who made the establishment mixe watches? Thank you for your benefices all.
 

Philip Poniz

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The number 3 inside the octagon corresponds to the department of central France, Alliers the city of Moulins.
regards enrico
You are right, but in different circumstances.
Here, it means the third gold standard (titre), i.e. 750/1000 (18 carat). The 2nd meant 840/1000 (a bit over 20 carat), and the 1st was 920/1000 (a bit over 22 carat). That marking was redundant because each standard had its own symbol; a sphinx for 18k, a lion for 20k, and a a wolf for 22k.
 

eri231

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Thanks for the explanation, in fact I had overlooked that the case is in gold and not silver.
Regards enrico
 

Philip Poniz

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How does the establishment mixe watches fit into this puzzle and who made the establishment mixe watches? Thank you for your benefices all.
That is a good question.

ETABLISSEMENT MIXTE DE BREGUET

Breguet was a rare phenomenon; he was a remarkable watchmaker and scientist, and an excellent businessman. Those two features rarely go together. His slightly older colleague, Antide Janvier, was an excellent clockmaker but not a good businessman and ended up having to sell the majority of his workshop.

Breguet realized that sometimes it would be wise to take other watches in trade. It was an incentive for some clients to purchase ones from his main series. You could come to the Breguet shop, tell him that you would buy his watch but then you will have no need for your old one. Breguet would have given you credit for your old watch against the purchase price. The sale of your old watch would be conducted on Breguet account by his brother-in-law.

Breguet also realized that other makers can offer, on occasion, excellent products. For instance, between 1807 and 1816, he bought almost 90 watches from Bautte. He also bought pieces from his employees. As an example; one of them, a souscription, Breguet bought from his employee, Bellot (No. 898).

The purchases were not only watches, there were clocks, paintings, snuff boxes, etc. He had a considerable additional retail business.

All the above went into the same account of etablissement etrangers. Some of them are signed Etablissement mixte de Breguet or Etablissement Mixte, Breguet, others are not. Most often, if signed, then in abbreviation: “ET MIXTE BREGUET. Some were restored, some were changed a little, for some, the dial could be changed, and some had Breguet signature added. They were in two special registers. The second register started in 1833 with the change of the name to Breguet Neveu.

Breguet himself described them as “Mixed watches, simple or repeating, executed outside, but according to our plans, and under our direction. The escapement and the regulator are finished in our establishment.” In fact, the story was way more complicated.

Some of them went through the books; some possibly did not. E. Gélis, in about 1922, tried to figure out the Breguet accounting system regarding these watches, and even though he had unlimited access to the company’s books, he was not entirely successful. He found Breguet purchase records of movements and watches from outside sources, including some from the best-known ebauche makers, but he could not find them recorded in the sales registers. For instance, in 1787, Breguet bought six movements from the brothers Blanc. Gélis was not successful in finding any sale records for these watches. I have a watch signed Breguet with a Blanc’s ebauche and have not been able to find it in any of the ledgers.

Some of them Breguet moved to his main series, some he used for parts of pieces in his main series, such as No. 306, elements of which were taken to build an important No. 2397 from the main series.

As for this particular watch, it is not from any of the above because of the signature and the serial number.
 

tick talk

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I can only add that since Breguet bought most of his ebauches from his ebauche makers, located on the most part in Switzerland,
This discussion has been very informative. It has stimulated a question about this quote from V&C's official history (my clarification in parenthesis):

Avril 1813
Et Vacheron (Jaques-Barthélemy Vacheron, son and successor of the founder Abraham Vacheron) prépare différents genres de pièces pour Paris, que son oncle (Barthélemy Girod) pourra porter avec confiance chez Bréguet. Mais le jeune horloger n’est pas secondé à Genève. Son père ayant été longtemps malade, il ne peut suffire à la tâche. Il emploie tout son temps pour la maison de Paris et les envois à P. H. Latard (first salesman of the Berguer & Cramer maison) en Italie; aussi, d’accord avec son beau-père (César Chossat, iron merchant in Carouge), se décide-t-il à prendre quelqu’un de plus, un homme capable par ses connaissances de mettre l’établissement sur le meilleur pied.

C’est Allamand Valentin, le premier talent de Genève, qui repassait à Bellot toutes les pièces destinées à Bréguet, qui entre chez nous comme visiteur; cela fait faire la grimace à plus d’un confrère”. Tout va dès lors s’accélérer sans interruption, et mettre Vacheron à même d’envoyer chaque mois à son oncle, pense-t-il, de 10 à 12 mille francs de marchandises.


Philip, would you know if "Bellot" was Bellot & Cheneviere of Geneva, makers of repeater watches during this period? Have you ever come across mention of this fellow Allamand Valentin?
 

Philip Poniz

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Philip, would you know if "Bellot" was Bellot & Cheneviere of Geneva, makers of repeater watches during this period? Have you ever come across mention of this fellow Allamand Valentin?
Dean,

Unfortunately, there is a long list of Breguet’s Swiss ebauche makers and suppliers we do not know much about. Bellot is one of them.

Bellot & Cheneviere was established by J. Bellot and Louis Cheneviere. Cheneviere came from the Droz enterprise. He is mentioned a few times in the Leschot papers. Their partnership formally was dissolved on December 15, 1819. I have no information about when it was established but probably not more than five years earlier.

Patrizzi mentions Jean Bellot as a Geneva maker and merchant of watches at the end of the 18th c.

In 1829, one J. Bellot is found as a petitioner for establishing an observatory. The list was drawn, presumably, as the participants came to sign it. Interestingly, his name is just under J. Ls. Audemars and just before Ingold’s. They must have known each other. J. Ls. Audemars, most likely, was Jacques-Louis Audemars, the younger brother of Louis-Benjamin Audemars. Pierre-Frederic Ingold was the inventor of machines for making interchangeable watch parts, who, eventually, ended up working for Vacheron Constantin. This raises an interesting question if there was some indirect involvement of the Audemarses in the Breguet watches? (At the end of the century, there was the direct involvement of Audemars in the House of Breguet.)

Breguet ledgers do not mention Bellot’s first name. Breguet bought from him, between 1813 and 1816, a couple dozen watches, quite a few for the Turkish market, all of which he entered into the Main register. About five dozen were entered into the Etrangers register. From 1815 the name changed in the register to Bellot & Cheneviere. This answers your question.

Was J. Bellot the Jean Bellot from Patrizzi’s? Most likely.

As for Allamand Valentin, the main sources mentioning him are from Vacheron Constantin. He was a finisseur. Valentin worked for Bellot, Bellot knew Ingold, Valentin switched to Vacheron Constantin. A close group, possibly it was by him that Ingold got there also.

Philip
 

tick talk

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Much appreciated, Philip. The possibility of a link between Valentin and Ingold is most intriguing!
 

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