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Breguet’s ode to history

Breguet’s 2016 gem-studded Perles Impériales Haute Joaillerie pays homage to the Napoleonic era.

In a world of instant and mass reproduction, historic French brand Breguet (est. 1747) is ensuring that its legacy of intricately crafted haute joaillerie and timepieces remains as stellar as it was in the 18th century. Its latest creation, the self-winding Perles Impériales Haute Joaillerie, is part 21st century but retains its reverence for history. The 5.7ct diamond, gold-and-pearl-trimmed timepiece hides intricate and advanced craftsmanship and yet delivers irresistible visual impact.

Breguet’s launch earlier last year of the Perles Impériales Haute Joaillerie is a reflection of its historic connection to Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Bonaparte family had a substantial Breguet collection and Josephine, who loved art, craftsmanship and jewels, continued to add to it with her own acquisitions.

The 2016 creation pays homage to a Breguet tact watch purchased by Josephine in 1800. The watch, recognizable by its distinctive blue enamel casing and diamond trim, is typical of the style and adornment trends of the times. Breguet has taken this piece to greater heights with the addition of a row of diamonds and a striking, large pearl at the six o’clock mark. Four diamonds mark three, six, nine and 12 o’clock. What makes this beautiful watch a modern investment is revealed through the sapphire crystal case back showing the ‘heart’ of the timepiece – an intimate view of a perfect engine and a series of synchronised, intricate components.

The Perles Impériale Haute Joaillerie watch comes in two variants. The one has a white-gold case, a mother-of-pearl dial, an oversized Akoya pearl and a delicate embroidery motif reminiscent of the Napoleonic era. The second features a Tahitian pearl, a rose-goldtrim and a Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial – both delicately feminine, high-design items of jewellery that happen to tell the time.

For the woman who has a serious interest in precious jewellery and watches, this timepiece is further characterised by the crown-shaped wreath on its face – a fitting homage to Josephine. Described by historians as Napoleon’s Cleopatra, she was the emperor’s lover and later his wife and Empress of France. This extraordinary watch by one of France’s great jewellers captures history and passion in its design and craftsmanship.

Breguet has also created a jewellery set to echo the Josephine watch. The 1.88ct diamond ring and a pair of 3.28ct earrings form a red-carpet ensemble.

Perles Impériale Haute Joaillerie is exclusively available in South Africa at Elegance Jewellers, purveyors of a carefully curated selection of limited-edition, luxury timepieces and highly sought-after collectable jewellery.

For more information, visit

By Vicki Sleet, Private Edition, Issue 32


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