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Breguet treasures breaks record at auction

The documents are still in fairly good condition

The company was founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet at the Quai de l’Horloge on the Île de la Cité following his marriage to the daughter of a prosperous French bourgeois. Her dowry provided the financing that allowed him to open his own workshop.

Distinguished patrons have included Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Queen Victoria, Sir Winston Churchill and George Washington.

The brand has also had a number of fictional owners, including Dr Lorrain from Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Phileas Fogg from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days and Baron Danglars from the Count of Monte Cristo written by Alexandre Dumas.

The document, issued in lieu of a passport, is dated June 23, 1794. It testifies to the arrival of Breguet in Neuchâtel and his welcome by the city authorities.

After the 1792 storming of the Tuilleries Palace in Paris, the Swiss community in Paris was suspected of being counter revolutionary.

Breguet at first was just deeply concerned; after all, he was at the height of his power. But people had already started saying that he was a supplier to the Court to the “bitter end”. To ease his situation, he filed papers to obtain French citizenship, claiming that he was a descendant of Protestants from Picardy. His citizenship was granted.

However, the climate of suspicion was growing and Breguet found himself in such an awkward situation that he felt he had to leave France.

After agonising months, Breguet, along with his son and sister-in-law, was able to leave France. His journey took him to many places, finally taking him to his birthplace Neuchâtel, where he found relatives and old family friends.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR