A Gem of a Watch by Breguet with a Distinguished Provenance

On 02 April 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

The beautiful Madame Tallien, the Spanish-born French aristocrat, salon holder and socialite during the Revolution, shot a diamond arrow that pierced a collector's heart.

Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), "subscription tact watch", gold and royal blue translucent enamel front and back, arrow hand set with diamonds, pearls on the caseband, gold interior with off-center dial, cylinder escapement, three-arm spiral balance, dia. 4 cm/1.57 in., weight 51.4 g/1.81 oz.
Result: €71,120

When the art of fine watchmaking meets the art of jewelry, they produce some real gems. This is true of this pocket watch in gold and translucent enamel, conceived and designed by brilliant Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) early in the 19th century. The inventor made countless contributions to the specialty, developing the perpetual watch and the tourbillon mechanism—and this was another model of surefire charm, with a diamond-set arrow-shaped hand, giving the time at the touch of a button.

The recipient of this magnificent object was not just any lady but beautiful Madame Tallien (1773-1835)—who, if she could not arrest time, certainly stopped hearts. This watch, a gift from her lover Mr. Gabriel-Julien Ouvrard (1770-1846), held out for a few minutes before yielding to a bid of €71,120. The finest item in a sale devoted to jewelry that garnered a total of €769,087, it appeared alongside an articulated gold bracelet with oval links adorned with small rubies (€41,910) and a gold and polychrome enamel chatelaine designed by jeweler Alphonse Fouquet (€20,955): another great name in his field.

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