Breguet: Art and Innovation in Watchmaking
September 19, 2015 – January 10, 2016
Legion of Honor
SAN FRANCISCO (September 25, 2014)—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to announce Breguet: Art and Innovation in Watchmaking, an exhibition that explores the history of the watch and clock maker, on view at the Legion of Honor beginning September 19, 2015. The company’s cutting-edge innovations transformed the nature of personal timekeeping, and the exhibition will include displays describing the technology that exemplify Abraham-Louis Breguet’s reputation as “the father of modern horology.”
From its beginnings in Paris in 1775, Breguet advanced great technical developments such as the self-winding watch, the first wristwatch, the repeating mechanism and most notably, the tourbillon—a revolutionary movement that neutralizes the negative effects of gravity on pocket watches. Breguet played a key role in the history of watchmaking, elevating the craft to its zenith by producing finely made watches that were a pleasure to handle and use.
“Breguet is well known for its exquisite craftsmanship and refined design. This exhibition will also give our visitors an in-depth look at the innovative technology and intricate workings found inside these historic Breguet watches and clocks,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
“I am enormously proud of the association between our prestigious institutions: Breguet and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. With our longstanding tradition of preserving arts and culture around the world, we are thrilled to bring this history-making exhibition to the city of San Francisco,” said Marc A. Hayek, president and CEO of Breguet.
The company's reputation for ingenuity, as well as the reliability and portability of its watches, led to Breguet’s watches being considered objects of great prestige, worn by the powerful and elite in Europe, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Tsar Alexander I and Queen Victoria. The most famous Breguet timepiece linked to a European monarch is the world-renowned “Marie-Antoinette” pocket watch, No. 160. This extraordinary piece took 44 years to make and was the most complicated watch of its time.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to experience the elegant designs and technical refinement of Breguet watches from the firm’s beginnings in the late 18th century up to the 1930s,” said Martin Chapman, curator in charge of European decorative arts and sculpture at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
During the 19th century, Breguet expanded its business into countries beyond France, supplying elegant timepieces to customers in Europe, Russia and the United States. Today Breguet is a name known throughout the world.