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During the five hundred years that horology has been accepted as a separate art only a dozen or so men have made a positive contribution to its progress.
Included in this little group of masters is the illustrious name of Abraham Louis Breguet (1747–1823), the arch-mécanicien in an age of mechanics. His contribution was as brilliant as it was original and, during a period when horological fashion was the slave of science, he lifted the watchmaker’s art to a new dimension of visual and technical excellence. In doing so he radically changed the whole concept of horology and transformed it into an art form that won him the adulation of Europe.
The unceasing search for perfection in the performance of his products led Breguet to the invention of mechanical principles that even today, are used in the design of the watch. His influence on the appearance and style of the watch was dramatic and his most complicated examples maintained the slim, elegant appearance that was to revolutionise watchmaking.
Breguet’s extraordinary ability in all branches of horology achieved for him the reputation of a genius, the patronage of kings and – rarest of all – the respect of the horological world. His products have never lost favour and many, in constant use, have been handed down through generations to their present owners. The passing of the years, with their many changes of fashion, have not diminished the beauty of the proportions and appearance of Breguet’s work.
The Art of Breguet is the complete, illustrated history of the work of Abraham Louis Breguet by the late George Daniels who has provided a detailed study of Breguet’s horological philosophy that explains so many of the misunderstood aspects of his work. He describes in detail the complexity of Breguet’s art and, by so doing, supplants the mystique that has surrounded it with a clearer understanding of its function. Over one hundred line drawings illustrate the progress of technical development and each is accompanied by an analysis of the mechanism and its intended purpose.
The history of the development of the internal and external appearance of the vast range of Breguet’s products is illustrated in a separate section, arranged in the order of manufacture to reveal the pattern of change in appearance. Each item is accompanied by a description of its external characteristics, mechanism, period of manufacture and, where possible, the date of sale.
This reprinted edition, with a foreword by Emmanuel Breguet, has been long awaited and is addressed equally to the student and to the collector of Breguet’s work.
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