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Historic manuscript

Patrizzi & Co sold the most important horological documentThe Breguet museum makes watchmaking history

The Breguet museum, under the auspices of Dr Nicolas Hayek, president and CEO of Montres Breguet S.A., purchased the most important horological document in existence for a record-breaking CHF 2.3 million, creating a cliff-hanging end to Patrizzi & Co’s 7 May Geneva auction. Thanks to a total commitment and aggressive bidding, the Breguet museum ensured that this historic manuscript has finally returned home.

Five years before his death Breguet began to set down his horological memoirs for posterity. He dictated all his horological experience, innovations and secrets to his assistant Louis Moinet. It was intended to be a book like no other that had ever been produced. Simply written, it offered in-depth explanations from which other watchmakers could learn and understand Breguet's secrets, and from which they could incorporate his experiences and ideas into their own work. The recent discovery of this work completely changes our understanding of the history of horology and our attitudes to and knowledge of watchmaking.

During the bidding, this historic Breguet manuscript was offered provisionally as seven separate lots, and from the outset it was clear from the number of bidders on the telephone and in the room who aggressively bid for the first lot in this manuscript group (lot 311), that history was about to be made. The bidding was feverish and fierce and quickly arrived at more than four times the lot’s initial estimate. This phenomenon was repeated with each lot in the manuscript group, with several of the lots, in particular lots 315 and 316, which cover Breguet’s thoughts on the tourbillion and Marine chronometers respectively, achieving more than eight times their initial estimate.

Since no one clear owner of the manuscript had emerged, the manuscript was then auctioned as one complete lot with the starting bid being the total of the provisional highest bids, so allowing the possibility of keeping the manuscript entire for posterity.