Abraham-Louis Bréguet (1747 – 1823) was born in Neuchatel, Switzerland but left his homeland for the bright lights of Paris and a watchmaking apprenticeship whilst still a teenager. He opened his own workshop in 1775 in the Ile de la Cité in Paris with the help of mentor Abbot Joseph-François Marie who introduced the young Bréguet to the French Court. Before long he was providing timepieces to such clients such as Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon I and the French Navy. He was creating the most refined watches of the period with features such as perpetual calendars, chronometers and automata. His success was cut short when he was forced to flee the revolution however he returned in 1795 and re-established himself and his business.
He sought to increase his foreign clientele and found particular success in Russia where he opened premises in St. Petersburg in 1808. Unfortunately he had to close this three years later when Tsar Alexander ceased to allow the entry of French goods into Russia in response to the politics of Napoleon.
Bréguet’s son Antoine-Louis Bréguet assumed leadership of the company in 1824 and continued the work of his father. His son Louis-Clément succeeded his father and grandfather and diversified the business to include other areas of scientific instrumentation but decided in 1870 to sell up to the head of the workshop Edward Brown. Brown was aware of the historical importance of the firm he had acquired and three generations of his family would safeguard the Bréguet name and reputation over the following century. In 1970 the Chaumet brothers bought the business and in 1999 it was taken over by the Swatch Group who remain the owners today.