Among the famous historical figures who once owned a Breguet timepiece, some remain closely bound up with the brand. Such is the case with Marie-Antoinette. The queen of France displayed exemplary loyalty as one of A.-L. Breguet’s most faithful clients. The watchmaker indeed created a pocket watch for her that remained the world’s most complicated timepiece ever made for almost a century.
The story behind its ties with Marie-Antoinette regularly inspires the creations from the House of Breguet. Places she cherished or her favourite pastimes are themes that continue to fire the imagination of the Manufacture’s designers. Within the framework of the launch in Tokyo (Japan) of its “Marie-Antoinette, a Queen in Versailles” exhibition partnered by Breguet, the House pays a fresh tribute to the last queen of France through an elegant and seductive creation: the one-of-a-kind Classique Rose de la Reine watch, a delightful nod to the gardens of the Petit Trianon.
In 1774, her husband, King Louis XVI, gifted Marie-Antoinette a chateau with these words: “You love flowers, Madame, so I have a bouquet to give you: the Petit Trianon.” The sovereign soon fell under the spell of this uniquely refined place that afforded her the privilege of retreating from the strict protocol of the French court. The part she most loved were the gardens, which she entirely redesigned when she settled there. And it would seem she nurtured a special affection for roses.
The one-of-a-kind Classique Rose de la Reine in white gold highlights a particular variety of these flowers that graced her gardens: “Rosa Centifolia Bullata”. Breguet’s artisans have opted for the technique of enamelling in order to do justice to the beauty of these dainty blooms. While the Manufacture is already familiar with this artistic craft featured on several of its timepieces, it draws upon a complementary procedure for this model. Working on a Grand Feu enamel dial base, the enameller creates a motif by applying powders of various colours so as to create a miniature painting. It goes without saying that this method calls for exemplary dexterity on the part of the artisan. Each colour, each nuance and each shading effect results from applying a different powder, using a brush made of sable hairs that are notably appreciated for their extreme thinness.
This process calls for considerable patience, since applying each separate shade is followed by an appropriate drying time and then firing in a kiln heated to over 800°C.
Further enhancing the magic of this work of art, Breguet has adorned the Clasique Rose de la Reine with diamonds and endowed it with its own most emblematic attributes. The time is thus read off using the classic Breguet open-tipped hands in white gold, while the minute circle is composed of tiny gold dots, leaving ample scope for the splendour of the enamelled dial. A mechanical self-winding movement visible through a sapphire-crystal caseback sets the final touch to this prestigious timepiece.
To mark the launch in Tokyo (Japan) of the exhibition titled “Marie-Antoinette, a Queen in Paris” and supported by the House of Breguet, the latter revisits the Désir de la Reine watch, now presented in a special version. This exquisite model features a dial graced with pink sapphires of various sizes whose colours are arranged in subtly graded shades. The artisans of the Manufacture have borrowed from Marie-Antoinette one of the most iconic decorative elements of her attire: the bow. Crafted in 18-carat white gold and entirely set with diamonds, this dainty motif hugs the curve of the watch at 6 o’clock. It echoes the brilliant-cut diamonds paving the bezel and the flange, and is picked up on the natural mother-of-pearl dial.