How much story can you pack into a watch that’s under four centimetres long and just over a centimetre thick? If you’re Breguet, the answer is a lot. That’s certainly the case with the brand’s Reine de Naples collection, an elegant line of oval jewelled watches that claims descent from the first wristwatch in recorded history.
Back in 1810, the legendary watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet received a rather oddball request. Caroline Murat, the queen of Naples, had placed an order for a slim, oval timepiece with a repeater complication to be worn on a bracelet of woven hair and gold thread. Style conventions of the time were vastly different from today: men wore their watches in jacket pockets, and women had tiny ones worked into jewelled necklaces and brooches. A dedicated wristwatch was a first of its kind.
The original from 1810 may be lost to time now, but the contemporary collection it has inspired is dedicated to its storied origins and wearing the jewellery watch label with pride. The latest reference 8918 models from this year introduce the options of grey and pink grand feu enamel dials with frosty leather straps to match. The enamel dials are painstakingly applied in layers by hand to achieve the desired vibrant, pastel opacity, and add a sweetness and aesthetic versatility to the designs.
But there’s no ‘shrink it and pink it’ gender bias with these watches. They exist as serious and elegant timepieces designed, from the outset, for a queen. The 8918 models in 18-carat gold are framed inside and out by diamonds: over 100 round brilliants set into the bezel, flange and buckle clasp; a faceted crown; and a pear-shaped briolette at six o’clock. And inside the watch beats an in-house self-winding mechanical movement with a hand-guillochéd platinum oscillating weight, guarded by a sapphire caseback so that the mechanics—not just the precious gems and enamelling—are in full view.
The December ‘Carouse’ issue of Vogue Singapore is available for sale online and in-store now.