A beauty blessed with a face so pure

In 2012, the 200th anniversary of the first wristwatch, Breguet launched the Reine de Naples 8908 on a decadently indulgent gold thread bracelet fit for a queen.


Breguet Reine de Naples gold thread bracelet 8908

The Napoleonic wars spanned a significant period in European history (1803 – 1815). Napoleon Bonaparte’s voracious appetite for foreign lands spelled a bloody period in European history.

It was a young Joachim Murat, who joined the army at 20 years of age. He would ascend the ranks toute de suite, distinguishing himself as a fine cavalry officer. Murat married Napoleon’s younger sister , Caroline Bonaparte, in 1802. Two years later he would be selected as one of a small number of marshalls in the ever expanding Napoleonic empire.

Ultimately Emperor Napoleon would award his brother-in-law the Neapolitan Throne in 1808. It was shortly afterwards Murat would seize Capri from the British and gain popularity with Neapolitans.

Later, Murat would side against Napoleon, signing a treaty with Austria. However, it was said Napoleon’s irascible temperament was ignited not by Murat’s actions but his perception that his younger sister had made Murat betray him.

It seems ironic that in a period of ugly war and battle, there was beauty and elegance. Murat was described as the “Dandy King” with flamboyant dress and long curly locks. Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples was said to possess the most beautiful complexion in France.

Beauty extended to the many possessions Caroline enjoyed. She was extravagant and self-indulgent. Gold jewellery, some featuring lapis lazuli and chalcedony, would form her extensive and expensive collection. However, it was her affection for Breguet which I can most readily understand.

Caroline had a close relationship with Abraham-Louis Breguet. She was a great admirer of his work and he would endeavour to satisfy every horological whim she had. In 1810, she commissioned the first wristwatch in history, which was delivered in 1812.

Two hundred years later, Breguet is celebrating its relationship with their famous patron. Sadly the watch commissioned in 1810, the No. 2639 model, disappeared and nobody knows what happened to it. However, the Breguet company archives have facilitated the replication of this fine watch.

In 2012, the 200th anniversary of the first wristwatch, Breguet launched the Reine de Naples 8908 on a decadently indulgent gold thread bracelet fit for a queen.

The dial

Black Tahiti mother of pearl is the organic gem created courtesy of the black lip oyster. The use of black Tahiti mother of pearl is a first for Breguet, but the outcome is wondrous to behold. The matchless lustre is the result of the deep layers and an indication of the quality of the pearl’s nacre.

An off-centre dial, is located toward the lower aspect of the egg-shaped dial. The peerless craft of the guillocher is exquisite. Sauté piqué on the minute circle sits adjacent satiné circulaire on the hour circle, all resplendent in brilliant concert.

The blued Breguet hands depict the hour and minutes and impart a luxurious persona against the Clous de Paris decoration beneath.

Subsidiary seconds feature on a subdial, finely decorated with an alternative pattern, intersecting the main dial. A blued hand with a small counterbalance at one end provides variation from the hour and minute hands. However, the departure from Breguet hands is perfectly judged and sits comfortably with the other design details of the watch.

At the most northerly position of the dial is a rhodiumed moon phase and a power reserve indicator. The additional functions enhance rather than detract. Nothing seems superfluous.

Diamonds circumnavigate the upper perimeter of the dial. Gem-setting is yet a further demonstration of Breguet’s artistry and their mastery of yet another horological trade.

This watch harnesses much of the historical design language with stunning sublimity. The secret signature stealthily resides on the hour circle and the single number synonymous with Breguet sits adjacent their nomenclature.

The case

An egg-shaped case treads a graceful path on virgin territory. It doesn’t follow the pack, but then Breguet was always the innovator. It is formed in 18-carat white gold, distilled and pure.

The caseband is fluted, faithful to Breguet tradition. Diamonds decorate the bezel and sparkle in the candlelight whilst worn at a romantic dinner. They flirt with the reflected light on the adjacent white gold surfaces and reinforce the majestic magnificence of this regal timepiece.

The crown is located at 4 o’clock and topped by a comely cabochon.

The sapphire crystal caseback allows the wearer to admire the intellect of this watches brilliant mind.

The movement

The calibre 537 DRL1, unlike Caroline’s watch, offers the convenience of a self-winding movement. Whilst this may represent a departure from the past, it remains loyal to the historical craftsmanship of Breguet.

The finissage is exemplary as you would expect of a Manufacture movement from a brand favoured by Kings and Queens.

An in-line Swiss ever escapement imparts accurate doses of energy to the functions of the watch. The movement has a frequency of 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 40 hours.

Style does not mean wearers have to dispense with horological perfection and this watch perfectly exemplifies this.

Conclusion

The bezel of this watch is festooned with 117 diamonds, totalling 0.99 carats. It has a white gold thread bracelet which proffers epicurean grandeur.

Some may argue this watch is grandiose or extravagently indulgent and maybe they have a point. But, I love the pursuit of excellence and the crafting of a watch without compromise.

The Queen of Naples was arguably ruthlessly ambitious, self-centred and extremely self-indulgent. In the summer of 1813 when the European crisis was at its worst, many manufacturers would have suffered economic woes. She purchased 12 watches in 1813 from Breguet which provided the necessary funds then to remain solvent.

Imagine if Breguet had ceased to trade. We may never have seen the tourbillon, pare-chute, Breguet overcoil or other numerous inventions attributed to the greatest watchmaker to have ever lived. For this, I must thank Caroline Murat for her services to horology.

The Breguet Reine de Naples gold thread bracelet 8908 is a beautiful timepiece of near ethereal quality. It may be beyond the financial means or many but that should never diminish the brilliance of its creation or detract from the beauty of its face.

Technical specification

  • Model: Breguet Reine de Naples gold thread bracelet 8908
  • Reference: 8908BB/5T/J70 D0DD
  • Case: 18-carat white gold; dimensions: 28.45 mm x 36.50 mm. Water resistant to 3 bar (30 m); sapphire crystal to front and solid case back.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; moon-phase indicator; power-reserve.
  • Movement: Calibre 537 DRL1 L, self-winding; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 22 jewels; power reserve 40 hours.
  • Strap: White gold thread bracelet.

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