Brand Directory: Breguet
Breguet was founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a Swiss watchmaker in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He spent ten years training under Ferdinand Berthoud and Jean-Antoine Lépine before setting up his own watchmaking business at 51 Quai de l'Horloge on the Île de la Cité in Paris.
Breguet networked during his apprenticeship as a watchmaker where he was introduced to the court, Queen Marie Antoinette showed a growing fascination with Breguet's unique self-winding watch; Louis XVI bought several of his watches at this time. In 1783 the Swedish count Axel von Fersen, who was the queen's friend and a reputed lover, commissioned Breguet to design a watch that was to contain every watch complication known at that time as a gift to Marie Antoinette. The result is Breguet's masterpiece, the Marie-Antoinette pocket watch (Breguet No.160).
In 1807 Breguet took on his son Louis-Antoine as his partner, renaming the firm "Breguet et Fils" (Breguet and Sons).
Abraham-Louis great-grandson Louis Antoine (1851–1882) was the last of the Breguet family to run the business. With none of his children interested in the business, the Breguet company hired English watchmaker Edward Brown of Clerkenwell to manage the Paris factory. Clerkenwell was the hub of watchmaking at that time and is one of the reasons we chose to have an office in Clerkenwell due to its historical place in watchmaking.
Brown soon became a partner and, after Breguet's grandson's death, he became owner and head of the company. When Brown died in 1895 the firm was taken over by his sons, Edward and Henry.
From 1870 to 1970, Breguet was owned by the Brown family. But sadly the ownership changed hands several times during the “quartz crisis” in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976, Breguet's then-owner Chaumet closed its French factory and moved production to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.
In 1987, Breguet was bought by Investcorp which, in 1991, created the Groupe Horloger Breguet (GHB). The Breguet Group consists of four subsidiaries: Montres Breguet SA, Breguet SA, Valdar SA and Nouvelle Lemania SA (which Breguet Group acquired in 1992). As a result, Breguet-brand watches are now made at the Nouvelle Lemania factory in Switzerland. In particular, Montres Breguet SA is the main company that sells timepieces under the brand name of "Breguet", and Breguet SA is the name of Breguet Group's distribution company in France.
In 1999, Groupe Horloger Breguet was acquired by the Swatch Group from Investcorp