Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Spanish Sympathiques. Please solve the mystery.

Oct 19, 2023,16:49 PM

Related to an Addendum to my article “Centenaire de Abraham Breguet: Mélange de bric et de broc” concerning Breguet Sympathique No. 430 I have been trying to locate pictures of two Sympathique clocks, namely Nos. 46 and 247 but the search has been in vain, rather an utter failure.

More-or-less there are a bakers-dozen A.L. Breguet-era Sympathique clocks (either lifetime or Neveu & Cie); pictures of 11 of the clocks are readily available but clocks 46 and 247 are Bigfoots. Both clocks set the time and regulate the watch.

Breguet fans will remember the subject of the Addendum (Breguet Sympathique No. 430) as being a highlight of the Breguet Asprey book (the clock was also featured on the cover of the book's order form brochure).

Helmut Mann’s Sympathique article (Alte Uhren, July 1982) notes Sympathique clocks Nos. 46 and 247 reside in the Palais Royal Madrid and David Salomons Breguet (1747-1823) notes both clocks having been sold to the King of Spain.

Emailing museums in Spain in vain I was referred to the article:  The measure of time: Kings’ clocks in the eighteenth-century Spanish court (Amelia Aranda Huete, Curator of clocks, Patrimonio Nacional, 2012). There are two mentions of “sympathetic” clocks.

Chapter IV CHARLES IV, the clockmaker king page 78

In addition to this crate the lady brought a smaller crate containing “the pendulum clock that sets the time of the watch” (la péndola que pone el Relox a la hora) which the queen had commissioned from the master clock and watchmaker Breguet. This clock was to be transported to Aranjuez as the queen required it urgently. So began the commercial dealings with Abraham-Louis Breguet, who enriched the royal collection with several timepieces, especially pocket watches. Breguet was notable for the technical perfection of his movements. One of his technical breakthroughs was the creation of sympathetic clocks like this one, which the Spanish queen must have commissioned from him. These clocks were used to wind and set the time of pocket watches. (see note 332, page 136)

Note 332: The Patrimonio Nacional collection preserves a sympathetic clock made by Breguet’s firm but dated 1850; it was made in the nineteenth century by the firm’s heirs.

I have checked every major Breguet reference book at my disposal and all the minor literature but alas pictures of clocks 46 and 247 remain elusive; any assistance from Breguet experts will be most appreciated, thank you.

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Comments: view entire thread


The Spanish clock mystery remains a mystery.

 By: Ratskunk : October 24th, 2023-13:35
The Palacio Real de Madrid sent me a picture of a clock at the bequest of my inquiry regarding the Spanish Breguet Sympathique clocks. The Breguet literature suggests Breguet Sympathique No. 46 and Breguet Sympathique No. 247 were sold to the King of Spai...  

A correction...

 By: Ratskunk : November 12th, 2023-14:38
I have been informed by a well-respected Breguet aficionado the clock I suggested could be Breguet Sympathique No. 247 is NOT Breguet Sympathique No. 247. Breguet Sympathique No. 247 was sold to the Spanish court circa 1814 and the clock in my picture is ...  

Breguet, Neveu et Cie Sympathique clocks (a quick note)

 By: Ratskunk : November 18th, 2023-17:14
The Sympathique clock I naively or rather ignorantly thought may have been Sympathique No. 247 is a mid-century Breguet, Nevue et Cie clock. Breguet, Nevue et Cie earned a gold medal at the French Industrial Exposition of 1834. M. Bréguet neveu continue d...  

Breguet Clock No. 46 mystery solved?

 By: Ratskunk : November 5th, 2023-14:34
Preface: I would be wildly remiss if I did not acknowledge the kind assistance of Andrew Crisford who has patiently answered a variety of my Breguet questions and in the case of Breguet clock No. 46 directing me to the Norbert Tieger book "Grandi Orologi:...  

Thanks for posting these

 By: tempocalypse : November 14th, 2023-15:42
I always found the Sympathique clocks to be incredibly fascinating but I didn't actually know a whole lot about them.

Addendum to Breguet Sympathique No. 46 re: 1798 Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française

 By: Ratskunk : November 14th, 2023-17:20
Just guessing but Breguet Sympathique No. 46 may have been the clock presented at the 1798 Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française. Page 5 and page 6 of the catalog list Breguet's entry: ARCADE N. o 2 Breguet, horloger à Paris: Un nouvel...