National Jeweler Network

Watch Auctions

Breguet pocket watch goes for $1.1M

November 14, 2013

Just auctioned for $1.1 million, this Breguet pocket watch is one of only three of its kind known to exist. One is currently in a museum in Jerusalem while the other was last recorded as belonging to Ismaïl Pacha, the viceroy of Egypt in the late 1800s.

Click here to see the auction’s top lots, plus personal items belonging to the Breguets that were included in the sale.

Geneva--A pocket watch from the mid-1800s connected to two legendary figures in the watch world sold for more than $1 million at Sotheby’s Important Watches sale held Tuesday in Geneva.

A buyer paid $1.1 million for the Breguet extra flat pair cased gold half-quarter repeating pocket watch that features equation of time, power reserve, indication calendar and moon phase based on chronometer principles. The purchase price was slightly more than the timepiece’s highest pre-sale estimate.

Originally purchased by Lord Henry Seymour Conway in Paris in 1831, the pocket watch was  exceptionally complex for its time and is one of only three of its kind known to exist. It is said to be a prime example of the “creative genius” of watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, who lived between 1747 and 1823 is known as the father of modern watchmaking.

His namesake company still exists today and is one of the luxury watch brands owned by the Swatch Group.

The first owner of the Breguet pocket watch was Lord Henry Seymour Conway, who purchased it from Breguet the company in Paris in 1831. He willed it to his brother, Richard Seymour Conway, the fourth Marquis of Hertford, who, in turn, left it to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace.

Wallace inherited his father’s fortune and art collection, and was a well-known collector of watches as well. It is said that he wore the Breguet pocket watch until his death in 1890 at the age of 72.

It is the first time this timepiece has appeared on the market.

The auction was held at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage in Geneva and included a total of 330 timepieces, a mix of modern and vintage. It garnered a total of $11.9 million.

Billed by Sotheby’s as a sale celebrating the legacy of Breguet, the auction also included personal items that belonged to Breguet and his son, Antoine Louis, and were the property of their descendants.  

A portrait of the famous watchmaker sold for $68,119, well above its high estimate of $44,000, while a notebook from 1820 that belonged to Antoine Louis sold for $10,218.