The King of Naples' Breguet Clock Holds Court at Bonhams

One of the earliest carriage clocks, the Breguet number 179, sold to the King of Naples in 1804, will lead Bonhams Fine Clocks sale on 11 December in London. It has an estimate of £300,000-400,000. The clock forms one of eight lots offered from the same important private collection of exceptional Breguet carriage clocks. Six of the clocks have travelling cases and all have certificates issued by Breguet confirming their original sale.

During the Napoleonic wars the Neapolitan royal family was forced into exile – seeking refuge in Sicily under the protection of the British fleet – first in 1799 and, after a brief return 1801, again in 1806. Upon the fall of Napoleon I, Ferdinand I, returned to Naples and suppressed the Sicilian constitution, incorporating his two kingdoms into that of the Two Sicilies in 1816.

Abraham-Louis Breguet was born in Switzerland in 1747. In 1762 he was sent to Versailles to be apprenticed to the watch trade under the influence of his stepfather, the reputed watchmaker, Joseph Tattet. Breguet was in business by 1775, and rapidly established his reputation by developing an entirely new world of watch and clock-making. Never ceasing to experiment, every watch and every clock that emerged from the workshop was unique, and each piece was made by hand.

Director of Bonhams Clock Department, James Stratton, said, "Breguet was one of the greatest horologists of all time. He pushed the boundaries of the possible, inventing mechanical phenomenon that worked to perfection, something rarely seen before. The pieces offered are important examples with exceptional provenance. These clocks – like all those that followed – became an integral part of the owner's life."

Other highlights of the sale include:

• The Baron de Blome Breguet. An exceptional early 19th Century French ormolu astronomic, grande and petite sonnerie striking carriage clock with perpetual calendar. Sold to Baron de Blome on the 29 January 1811 for 2,000 Francs. With original presentation case. Estimate: £300,000-400,000.

• The Gerugross Breguet. A very fine, small and rare early 19th Century French astronomic, quarter-repeating ormolu carriage clock timepiece with moonphase and four calendar indications, in original box with original hand-setting and winding key. Originally sold to Monsieur Gerugross on 30th September 1816 for 4,000 Francs, with certificate. Estimate £200,000-300,000.

• The Labanoff/ Downshire. A very fine, early 19th Century French ormolu quarter repeating, astronomic carriage clock timepiece with alarm, moonphase and calendar. With later bespoke travelling case and double-ended key. With certificate number 4183 confirming its sale on 6th October 1812 to Madame la Marquise de Downshire for 4,800 Francs. Estimate: £200,000-300,000.

• A fine and very rare, signed and dated late 17th Century Italian ebony night clock with inlaid hardstone panels, and patent silent escapement, Petrus Thomas Campani, Rome. Estimate: £150,000-200,000.


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