Two Breguet wristwatches from the era of Chaumet, Bodet and Roth

Oct 21, 2020,08:57 AM

On the 23rd September last year I attended an evening preview at Sotheby’s in London, firstly to congratulate an old friend on his new book being presented at the same event, and to handle two 1980s Breguet wrist watches that a friend had shown interest in. Needless to say, it is rather easy to get carried away at an auction house soiree, which lead to me almost forget to peruse the lots within the vitrines. As the watches were being safely removed for the night I quickly glanced at the two lots as requested and promptly messaged him to advise that they were both in fine fettle.

Fast forward to late July of this year and instead of my planned visit to the Breguet boutique in London to photograph various pieces from the current collection that had been planned for the spring, I made arrangements to access the two watches referred to above that my friend had purchased. The first photo shows the watches side by side and clearly demarcates the period of watchmaking at Breguet spearheaded by a young Daniel Roth and the ownership of the Chaumet brothers. 

After having spent a couple of hours chatting and photographing, I began to investigate these two timepieces, paying particular attention the watch above. The case back belongs to the perpetual calendar, reference 3310, introduced in 1986. In fact, and this has been confirmed by Maison Breguet in an email to the owner, this is the 3rd ref.3310 to leave the factory on the 30th November of that year (something that was not mentioned in the catalogue essay when he purchased it at auction, the essay merely stating that No.3 is engraved on the caseback). 1987 was a notable year in the history of Breguet as Jacques and Pierre Chaumet, who had purchased Breguet in 1970 from George Brown, were arrested and subsequently charged with fraud on the 13th June of the same year (the photo below shows an extract from the New York Times dated June 15th 1987 headlined ‘A Scandal in French Jewellery’). This swift change in the status of the brothers led to the sale of Breguet to Investcorp that same year.

Image courtesy New York Times

The development of the perpetual calendar wristwatch at Breguet was lead by Daniel Roth who first created the reference 3050 seen below in the 1970s after he joined the company in 1973. (I should add that the date of the first 3050 is not clear to me personally as the Maison advised that the first iteration was only available in 1985 and I have read elsewhere that it was introduced in the mid-1970s). Remember also that perpetual calendar wristwatches in series were extremely rare at the time (Patek lead the way in the middle of the twentieth century and ref. 3450 was replaced by ref. 3940 in 1985).

Breguet reference 3050 signed Breguet and Chaumet. Image courtesy Antiquorum

The origins of this particular model can be found in the school watch Daniel Roth made whilst studying in Le Sentier for 2 years on the advisement of Francois Bodet, the director of Breguet between 1973 and 1987, the man who had persuaded the Chaumet brothers to hire him from Audemars Piguet.

Daniel Roth school watch. Image courtesy Quill and Pad via Daniel Roth

The functional distinction between this earlier watch and the 3310 is that the latter was endowed with an additional indication for the power reserve. Of course, the layout is completely renewed and is less ‘traditional’ in its appearance. The 3310 was arguably Roth’s swansong before he left the company in 1987 when the Chaumet’s tenure came to an abrupt end. It is also fascinating to imagine what the atmosphere was like in the atelier when this watch was completed: the company’s future unclear with regards ownership, but cemented in terms of the direction its watchmaking was taking. 

What is also interesting to note is that according to an email correspondence I had with Breguet, they confirmed that the reference 3310 was manufactured between 1986 and 2000 and although on the surface it seems unlikely that they only made 3 watches in the space of a year or so, these particular perpetual calendars were particularly delicate watches that included slim movements with a new complicated module and engine turned dials. Plus Bodet is quoted as saying that they only produced 2 or 3 perpetual calendars a year due to the 30 different professions required to manufacture a single piece (see 'Breguet: The Story of a Passion, 1973-1987).

I thought it would be apposite to include the text of the email from Breguet as received by the owner.

‘We confirm that Maison Breguet has produced a 3310BA13282 watch serial number 3569 engraved n°3 

Description: Classique complication wristwatch in 18-carat yellow gold, self-winding, power reserve indicator, perpetual calendar, leap year, moon-phases, silvered dial hand-engraved. Calibre 502 DRP leather strap, pocket for correcting pin....  Our curator, Mr. Breguet Emmanuel confirms This means that the watch in question is the third watch produced in this reference (QP moon phases) which was new at the time.’

Some further images of the watch.

As a postscript to the story of this watch, I also located the first ever ref. 3310 off the production line in an Antiquorum catalogue. Note that it has case no. 3570 where our watch has case no. 3569. 

Breguet reference 3310, watch No.1. Image courtesy of Antiquorum

Breguet reference 3130 from 1986

Introduced in 1983, the watch features a sectoral power reserve, phases of the moon and a sub dial at 6 displaying the date. I have read that the display caseback and ornately engraved movement are features of the later, updated, reference 3137, but this particular early 3130, dated to 1986, seems to be an unusual example (many others I have seen in auction databases have solid casebacks).

The reference 3130 was inspired by Breguet pocket watch No.5 sold in 1794 as seen below.

Breguet No.5 from 1794. Image courtesy of Antiquorum

Please enjoy some further images of the watch's dial and movement. 



More posts: 31303137ClassiqueClassique Power ReserveDaniel Roth

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Comments: view entire thread


These are two beautiful examples...

 By: mdg : October 21st, 2020-09:03
...they look so much more 'organic' than their modern counterparts. And these days, great value too...
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I have received comments elsewhere critical of the quality of the engine turning.

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-09:09
But I think that is somewhat harsh as it neglects to take into consideration the context of what a luxury watch was in the wake of proliferation of quartz. There was oddly an element of cottage industry as those brands that emerged in the late 1970s and 1... 
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I appreciate the more handmade look of these...

 By: mdg : October 21st, 2020-09:15
...the modern versions are beautiful, but look as if they were done by a computer. Valuation aside, I would always take a watch that looked like a Daniels or Smith (early) over a 'perfect' watch. I want to see the hand of the person who made it.
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I'm with you, and they sit beautifully on the wrist. [nt]

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-09:18
No message body
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They are indeed good looking pieces and good values! [nt]

 By: patrick_y : October 21st, 2020-10:09
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More than likely.

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-09:59
The watches were consigned to the same sale most likely by the same client. They were manufactured in consecutive years ('86 and '87) and we know that the 3130 was sold in Dusseldorf, May 1986, which would lead me to believe that they ended up in the same... 
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Interesting article and history of Chaumet...

 By: patrick_y : October 21st, 2020-10:09
Thank you very much for the read!
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An interesting pair of watches from a turbulent time. [nt]

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-13:37
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*of [nt]

 By: Rosneathian : October 21st, 2020-11:19
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They are wonderful pieces.

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-13:38
Funny thing is I only started investigating once I had the chance to photograph them because the caseback of the perpetual held some intrigue. It was certainly worth the effort.
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I've returned to your post having spent the last six months studying the work of Daniel Roth in more detail

 By: Rosneathian : April 17th, 2021-22:00
This has involved coming across written pieces where you were involved, some quite high-profile coverage in the watch media, IG (unavoidably) and the complete catalogue of his work reconstructed from back issues of Europa Star. You could say I'm smitten. ... 
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Thank you!

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-13:39
I did write Mr Roth with some questions about the references mentioned in the post, but alas I have yet to receive an answer!
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Very informative post

 By: Speedie74 aka Mr. Torquise : October 21st, 2020-11:36
with beautiful pictures, thanks for it! I didn’t know that Roth was also at Breguet, I was aware of the fact, that he worked for Audemars. But if I compare the dials of the first Roth watches with these Breguet’s, the similarity is obvious. As for the gui... 
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Hi Adam. Thank you for your comments.

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-13:43
Mr Roth certainly played a pivotal role in Swiss watchmaking in the the 1980s and early 90s. I am preparing an overview of guilloche dials on watches from the 1970s to the present day, but haven't yet delved too deeply into the operation of the machinery.... 
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Interesting article

 By: VinnieD : October 21st, 2020-13:03
I remember my great uncle - who used to be in the diamonds trade - telling me about these stories. Jewellery in the 70s and 80s must have been quite something with on one hand capitalism running wild in Western societies and on the other hand oil riches a... 
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Good write up [nt]

 By: WatchEater : October 21st, 2020-13:35
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Thank you and i'm glad you enjoyed it. [nt]

 By: gadalex : October 21st, 2020-13:44
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Thank you for this very informative thread.

 By: Tyo : October 21st, 2020-19:14
I’m a proud owner of a Tradition so I mean it sounds louder to me.
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A pleasure indeed. [nt]

 By: gadalex : October 22nd, 2020-00:19
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2 amazing examples from the Roth era. Thanks for sharing [nt]

 By: holdemchamp1225 : October 22nd, 2020-15:22
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Pleasure! [nt]

 By: gadalex : October 23rd, 2020-03:01
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Love these watches!!

 By: Spencer Karrington : October 23rd, 2020-03:31
While they are part of the Swatch group, i love how, while they have sort of strayed around from the handmade details, they still try to uphold the values of breguet and the brand as well as the aesthetics which makes them one of my all time fav watch bra... 
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I am in agreement. I'd love to own either of them! [nt]

 By: gadalex : October 25th, 2020-12:47
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A pleasure

 By: gadalex : April 26th, 2021-09:05
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Breguet 3050 vs. 4259RE

 By: mikephuvie : December 3rd, 2021-15:38
Hi, during my search for a Breguet I came across your article on WPS board. I just want to let you know that there is a reference 4259RE that I came across which is identical to the 3050. This could possibly be the predecessor to the 3050. Or perhaps Breg... 
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Thanks for the info.

 By: gadalex : December 16th, 2021-18:54
For some reason I've only just seen your message. I will look into it. Regards, Baruch
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Here are some pics

 By: mikephuvie : December 16th, 2021-22:26
Also found info on one auction by Sotheby’s. ...  
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