Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Breguet celebrates the 200th anniversary of its first watch manufactured, this month. The watch was not only a first for Breguet but also possibly the first timepiece for the wrist. Breguet has commemorated the special occasion with production of the Reine de Naples Anniversary Edition watch.
Abraham Louis-Breguet made the wristwatch for Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples and longtime admirer of his timepieces.
Photo courtesy of watchtime.com
Breguet began celebration of the anniversary in January with a traveling exhibit which offered audiences a glimpse of the world’s first wristwatch as well as previews of the Reine de Naples collection. The collection, so-named for that queen who ordered the first exquisite timepiece from Breguet, consists of an exclusive watch and matching jewelry.
Photo courtesy of watchtime.com
The anniversary edition watch takes design cues from the ovoid case of the original watch to which it pays homage. The watch’s bezel and snap are set with 28 diamonds and 27 blue sapphires; the movement of the timepiece is visible through the sapphire caseback. Another 233 diamonds and 303 sapphires of varying shades pave the gold dial and its flange while the alligator strap features a folding clasp set with another 26 diamonds.
To match the bejeweled watch Breguet will also offer the Reine de Naples Jewellry set, which includes a ring, a pair of earring, a necklace and a tiara. Each piece of jewelry hosts diamonds and sapphires set in 950 platinum and is designed around the central motif of a sapphire. Diamonds, sapphires and platinum- not a bad anniversary present!
The Reine de Naples Anniversary collection ring. Photo courtesy of watchtime.com
Matthew H for Raymond Lee Jewelers, South Florida’s premiere source for buying and selling luxury watches and designer jewelry.
When the use of jewel bearings was first patented in 1702, only the most elite quality watchmakers used sapphire, ruby, or diamond jewel pivots. The majority of watchmakers would use garnet, quartz, or even glass jewels to create their jewel bearings, due to the high cost of natural ruby and sapphire gemstones.
Jewel bearings for watches were ground from tiny pieces of natural gemstones from their introduction in 1702 until the early 20th Century. In the early 1900′s, a process to create synthetic rubies was discovered by Parisian Professor, Abraham-Louis Breguet . This process was invented in order to eliminate the high cost of natural gemstones by creating synthetic sapphires to be utilized in watch crystals. Nearly all modern-day watches use this synthetic ruby (or sapphire) in their watch jewel bearings.
Read on to discover the precise and persistent role in which the Ruby has played throughout the evolution of timepiece mechanics, and the inherently possessed intelligence and engineering abilities of natural gemstones…
There is one constant element that you will find in each and every mechanical timepiece, from the earliest models to today’s modern designs. A complex integration of finely balanced moving parts are the fundamental foreground for all mechanical watches. This complex composition of mechanics involves the vital presence of a plain bearing. A watch bearing is a relationship, if you will, between pivot pieces and the torus shaped holes in which they are turned into.
Pivot pieces turn into torus shaped holes, which are drilled into two brass plates that are separated by pillars. The lower situated brass plate of the two was once drilled with small holes in order to allow the opposite end of the pivot to turn. Small amounts of oil were used to lubricate the pivots within the torus shaped holes. Through the progression of time, an accumulation of debris and dust from daily use would slowly form within the small holes.
A mixture of oils and debris would form into an abrasive material, acting asa sandpaper of sorts, slowly wearing away the soft brass of the plates, and eventually even the hard steel pivots. The once torus shaped pivot holes would morph into oval shapes as a result of this material accruing, directly causing erratic watch function and eventual failure.
Frustrated with this difficult and seemingly unavoidable eventuality, Watchmakers began to search for a material that was harder than brass, and which could withstand the constant movement of the pivots. The winning material was found in the natural Ruby gemstone, the second hardest natural material on record in the world. Fatio de Duillier made his mark on the historical evolution of timepieces when he developed and patented a method of perforating jewels for use in clocks in the early 1700′s.
In collaboration with Pierre and Jacob Debaufre, Fatio de Duillier patented the use of jewels as wheel bearings in mechanical clocks in 1702. This would mark the beginning of many advancements in the development of timepiece precision that would utilize the knowledge of planetary alignment and universal positioning as a guide to advanced timepiece engineering.
This pear-shaped ruby is then sliced into small pieces and these pieces are shipped off to watchmakers. The watchmakers then destroy 90% of the synthetic ruby to turn into a usable part for a watch. The high cost of certain modern-day mechanical watches are not due to the high price of natural rubies, as the wristwatches of the 18th and 19th Century. However, the labor intensive process of putting the synthetic rubies into the watch bearings is costly due to the time and labor invested to their proper placement in the jewel bearing.
The use of jewels in timepieces remains strong and steadfast in the world of watches, as they serve two valuable purposes. The first is the reduced friction within the bearings. This directly increases the accuracy and precision of the timepiece. Jewel surfaces within watch bearings reduces variations in movement, increasing the life and maintained integrity of the bearings.