Breguet in Literature

Some well-known literary figures have paid tribute to the art of Breguet in their writings. Below is a selection of noteworthy passages celebrating the high artistry of Breguet and his descendants.

Helen Maria Williams (1761–1827)

“Who ‘midst the academic bowers,
On BREGUET call to mark the hours;
Through the long gall’ry swift advance,
And judge perfection with a glance!”

—The Travellers in Haste, addressed to Thomas Clarkson, Esq. in 1814, when many English arrived at Paris, but remained a very short time.

Stendhal (1783-1842)

“Breguet makes a watch which for twenty years never goes wrong, while the pitiful machine by which we live runs amiss and produces pain at least once a week.”

—Rome, Naples and Florence (1817)

John Kenyon (1784-1856)

“Speak of a church – he quotes Saint Peter’s;
A watch – he cites Breguet’s repeaters;
And e’en the trout, on which we dine,
Would have been better from the Rhine”

—The Travelled Oyster, Poems: for the most part occasional (1838)

Pushkin (1799-1837)

“A dandy on the boulevards (…), strolling at leisure until his Breguet, ever vigilant, reminds him it is midday.”

—Eugene Onegin (1825-1833)

Balzac (1799-1850)

“He drew out the most delicious thin watch that Breguet had ever made. Fancy, it is eleven o’clock, I was up early.”

—Eugénie Grandet (1833)

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)

“Danglar’s watch, a masterpiece by Breguet which he had rewound with care before setting out the previous day, chimed half past five in the morning.”

—The Count of Monte Cristo (1845)

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

“At times the heart plays tricks and lets us down. The vigilant are right. For God (the mighty Breguet) gave us faith, and seeing it was good, improved it with a watchful eye.”

—Chansons des Rues et des Bois (1865)

Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870)

“The traveller regrets taking so much money with him. He looks at his Breguet watch – perhaps it’s for the last time. He would have been happier if it were hanging safely from his mantelpiece in Paris.”

—Lettre d’Espagne (1830)

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

“As for “tickers”, (…) her apartments were alive with their clicking. Tor, happening to mention one night that hers, (…) went ill, on the very next morning there came to her a little bijou marked Leroy (…) and another signed Breguet, which was covered with pearls (…).”

—Vanity Fair (1847-1848)

Henry Murger (1822-1861)

“Rodolphe found Mademoiselle Laure at the trysting place. Good, said he, for punctuality she is a feminine Breguet.”

—“Scenes of Bohemian Life” (1848), the work that inspired Puccini for his opera “La Bohème”

Patrick O’Brian (1914-2000)

“They were both indeed Breguet repeating watches, wonderfully accurate, wonderfully resistant (…).”

—Blue at the Mizzen (1999)

John Fowles (1926-2005)

“He takes out his watch, a Breguet, (…) an instrument from the bench of the greatest of watchmakers.”

—The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969)

Jiro Asada (1951-)

“My watch that you see here is a jewel made by a great craftsman called Breguet. It seems that it was once treasured by King Louis and Queen Marie-Antoinette. It’s a real masterpiece, of unequalled precision.”

—Tooi Tsutsuoto (2002)

Amor Towles (1964-)

“The twice-tolling clock, the Count explained, had been commissioned by his father from the venerable firm of Breguet. Establishing their shop in Paris in 1775, the Breguets were quickly known the world over not only for the precision of chronometers, but for the elaborate means by which their clocks could signal the passage of time. They had clocks that played a few measures of Mozart at the end of the hour. They had clocks that chimed not only at the end of the hour but at the half and the quarter. They had clocks that displayed the phases of the moon, the progress of the seasons, and the cycle of the tides. But when the Count’s father visited their shop in 1882, he posed a very different sort of challenge for the firm: a clock that tolled only twice a day.”

—A Gentleman in Moscow (2016)

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