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Cité du Temps at GenevaInteractive exhibition: Breguet l’innovateur. Inventeur du Tourbillon

From January 21st to February 24th 2013, Breguet is taking up quarters in Geneva’s Cité du Temps where it is to celebrate one of the most striking inventions in watchmaking history: the tourbillon. Through a didactic and interactive exhibition entitled “Breguet, the innovator. Inventor of the Tourbillon”, the House pays tribute to the discovery that undoubtedly symbolises its founder’s genius.

An event coinciding with the SIHH will be held on Wednesday January 23rd 2013, in the presence of Marc A. Hayek, President & CEO, Montres Breguet. After Geneva, this itinerant exhibition will tour other European cities, before travelling across Asia, the Middle East and the United States.

On June 26th 1801 – or rather on 7 Messidor Year 9, since the Republic calendar was still in force at the time – the French Minister of the Interior awarded Abraham-Louis Breguet a patent for the invention of the tourbillon. This new type of regulator was developed in response to a longstanding problem: the fact that gravity exercises a detrimental effect on the regularity of a movement by generating variations in rate. Breguet understood that in order to reduce such errors, he would need to install the entire escapement within a mobile carriage that would perform a complete rotation, generally in one, four or six minutes. The regular repetition of the variations would allow them to compensate for each other. This supremely ingenious invention turned out to be exceedingly difficult to produce, and of all Breguet’s brilliant ideas, was undoubtedly the toughest to implement. One of the reasons behind this daunting task relates to the weight of the tourbillon, which must be sufficiently light at no more than one gram, and yet also robust, so as to avoid inducing rating errors rather than eliminating them. This inherent difficulty was compounded by that of finishing the over 70 tiny parts that must fit and mesh together with absolute precision. Making a tourbillon was not within reach of all watchmakers, and only the finest proved capable of producing one after the 10-year patent had expired.

Building on its unique heritage, the House of Breguet constantly develops new tourbillons that now form an extensive Grandes Complications collection. The exhibition “Breguet the innovator. Inventor of the Tourbillon” is an invitation to discover these contemporary masterpieces, while celebrating the tourbillons of the past. Visitors are immersed into a dedicated area where the secrets of this prodigious invention are revealed to them.