Breguet Success Ends a Great Year For Clocks at Bonhams

One of the earliest carriage clocks, Breguet number 179, formerly owned by the King of Naples, achieved £300,000 in a fitting end to the year for Bonhams Clocks Department in London.

The final Bonhams Fine Clocks sale of 2019 took place on 11 December with highlights including the Marquise de Bethisy Breguet number 1559, that sold for £137,563, and a fine early 19th Century French ormolu quarter repeating carriage clock timepiece, which achieved £100,063. Also featured in the sale, the Baron de Blome Breguet followed suit with that of the King of Naples Breguet, similarly realising £300,000.

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. Several of the technical innovations forwarded by Breguet are still used today.

Director of Bonhams Clock Department, James Stratton, said, "Breguet was one of the greatest clock and watch makers of all time – his clientele included the most influential people in the world – it has been a privilege to handle these clocks that were such an intrinsic part of their owners lives, resolutely keeping them on track in affairs of state. As well as the take-up rate for the Breguet collection, it was also particularly encouraging to see the response for the rest of the sale – eight out of ten clocks found new homes, with many far exceeding their pre-sale estimates. This sale rounds off a record-breaking year for the Clock Department at Bonhams and leads us into 2020 full of hope and enthusiasm for the year ahead."

Other highlights of the sale included:

• A fine and rare early 18th Century ebony Dutch-striking musical table clock with 12 tunes on 13 bells and 23 hammers, Roger and Dunster London – sold for £47,563, against an estimate of £25,000-35,000.
• An important 'First Period' brass lantern clock William Bowyer, Leadenhall street London. Originally bought by John, 6th Earl of Rothes on a visit to London to petition Charles I – sold for £43,813, against an estimate of £7,000-10,000.
• A limited edition clock by Jaeger le Coultre made to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 – sold for £17,500 against an estimate of £5,000-7,000.
• A very fine mid-18th Century burr walnut longcase clock. John Ellicott, London – sold for £27,563 against an estimate of £15,000-25,000.
• Musical clocks by Roger Dunster, sold for £47,500 against an estimate of £25,000-35,000.

Earlier this year the smallest clock made by master clockmaker Thomas Tompion sold for £1,935,063 at Bonhams sale of The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks in London (19 June). With exceptional royal provenance – it was made for King William and Queen Mary – it became the most valuable clock by Thomas Tompion ever sold at auction.

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