A QUEEN OF BEAUTY
For 209 years, the names of Caroline Murat and Abraham-Louis Breguet have been firmly linked and have lasted over time thanks to the Reine de Naples collection, a homage paid by the Vallée de Joux brand to the young queen.
Caroline Bonaparte (1782-1839) was not only the younger sister of the emperor of France Napoleon (1769-1821) and the wife of Marshal Joachim Murat (1767-1815). Above all, Caroline Murat was a woman of taste, a lover of art, culture and – of clockmaking! She became Queen of Naples in 1808 and held the title until it was abolished in 1815. She would often call on the services of Abraham-Louis Breguet, ordering over thirty clocks and timepieces from him in the space of six years, becoming the watchmaker’s most important and faithful customer. Caroline’s most extravagant (for the time) request came in 1810: a repeater watch equipped with a thermometer. This very slender piece with an oblong shape had a strap woven from golden threads so that it could be worn on the wrist. Delivered two years after the order, the piece made by Breguet was probably the very first wrist-watch in history.
Today the name of Reine de Naples (Queen of Naples) still figures in the Breguet collections; it represents a family of highly feminine, exquisite watches, adorned by such crafts as jewel setting, mother-of-pearl marquetry and shell cameo engraving. The watches are easily identifiable thanks to certain aesthetic features including the oval silhouette of the case, the delicately fluted body and the crown, generally topped with a jewel and placed at 4 o’clock.
This year, at BaselWorld, Breguet unveiled a new timepiece in the collection: the Reine de Naples 8918. The oval pink gold case is 36.5 x 28.45mm and set with 117 diamonds. A first band of brilliant-cut jewels highlights the bezel, while a second row of gems, placed along the chapter ring, illuminates the dial with their sparkling fires.
The dial on the Reine de Naples 8918 has two parts, with two types and colours of mother-of-pearl. Against a Tahiti mother-of-pearl background with warm copper tones is an hour rim with finely shaded black Arabic figures, helping them stand out. The number 6, at the bottom of the dial, has been replaced by a magnificent 0.26 carat pear-cut diamond. The gem slightly overlaps a hand-made white mother-of-pearl guilloché disc, forming a Clous de Paris pattern. Two small Breguet open-tipped hands, made of blued steel, display the hours and minutes.
The time indications are powered by calibre 537/3, a self-winding mechanical movement providing 45 hours of power reserve, and partially visible through a sapphire glass window sealing the back of the watch case.
Price: 34,200 (leather strap) breguet.com
By Sharmila Bertin