One of the Best-Kept Secrets in Paris: Breguet Museum

Perpetuelle self-winding watch. ca/ 1789, representing the earliest Perpetuelle by Breguet.

Perpetuelle self-winding watch. ca/ 1789, representing the earliest Perpetuelle by Breguet.

Right in the heart of Paris is one of the best-kept secrets for watch lovers to explore: the Breguet Museum. Not intended to be a secret, the museum occupies the second floor of the brand’s flagship boutique in Place Vendome – and houses approximately 70 of the brand’s most illustrious historical pieces. It also lays claim to the home of top Breguet archives – kept in a temperature-controlled vault.

Emmanuelle Breguet shares the Breguet archives.

Emmanuelle Breguet shares the Breguet archives.

Recently, while in Paris with Breguet, we were privy to experiencing the museum – with a private tour led by Emmanuelle Breguet – seventh generation Breguet as well as keeper of the books and historian extraordinaire.  Among the treasures here – once you get done gaping at the actual drawings and citations of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s inventions in his journal (including the tourbillon) – are the historical ledgers that list sales to such notables as Marie Antoinette,

One of several entries for watches made for Napoleon by Breguet.

One of several entries for watches made for Napoleon by Breguet.

Caroline Murat (the first actual wrist watch) and Napoleon. The archives date back to 1787.  While we all know the stories of these royal patrons of Breguet, seeing it in hard and fast several-hundred-year-old ledgers brings reality home.

Souscripton watch, gold case, enamel dial. Sold January 1820 for 906 francs.

Souscripton watch, gold case, enamel dial. Sold January 1820 for 906 francs.

A walk through the museum also yields riches upon riches in terms of timepieces. Gems include a host of remarkable list of must-see 18th and 19th century complication watches, newer-vintage (albeit still 19th and 20th century) Type XX chronographs, calendars and some of the first stem-wind (instead of key-wound) watches.

Watch equipped with a system invented by Breguet enabling the pointer on the outside of the case to reproduce the position of the hand inside.

Watch equipped with a system invented by Breguet enabling the pointer on the outside of the case to reproduce the position of the hand inside.

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