Breguet’s Rêve De Plume Haute Joaillerie: A Quill By Any Other Name
by Nancy Olson
As the resident pen writer at this publication, and since plume is serendipitously the French word for both “quill” and “pen,” I thought I’d share my thoughts about Breguet’s Rêve de Plume, which was introduced at Baselworld 2015.
In my opinion, this is one of the most stunning ladies’ watches around, combining true watchmaking provenance with lovely design incorporating many of the art forms for which Breguet is known.
This haute joaillerie timepiece is part of the Breguet Plumes collection, and it is a tribute to Queen Marie Antoinette, who was the inspiration for more than a couple of Breguet’s high jewelry watches.
As you probably know, Marie Antoinette was a huge fan of Abraham Louis Breguet and his timepieces. Breguet lore says she even requested a watch be delivered to the cell where she was imprisoned – an act of true watch obsession that we watch lovers certainly understand.
But it was the elusive No. 160, a pocket watch commissioned by an admirer expressly for her (she never saw it completed) that became known as the infamous “Marie Antoinette.”
The Rêve de Plume, with its beautifully sculpted feather wrapped into its diamond-studded case design, is an homage to both Marie Antoinette’s love of Breguet timepieces – she owned several – and her prolific letter writing, presumably using a quill pen.
The plume on this Rêve de Plume begins at about 6 o’clock and elegantly sweeps across the entire left side of the bezel.
The setting of the diamonds is quite incredible and really speaks to the artistry of the Breguet craftsman who used diamonds of different sizes to realistically represent each part of the quill. The central part is set with baguette-cut diamonds that taper toward the end like the spine of a feather, while brilliant-cut diamonds of varying sizes create the plumage.
More diamonds are on the bezel and flange as well as the crown (at 4 o’clock), which holds a single briolette-cut stone. Oh, yes, the folding clasp on the blue satin strap, too, is set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds, making for a grand total of more than four carats on the watch.
As it radiates from 6 o’clock, the engine-turned pattern on the dial perfectly complements the veins of a feather. A cartouche with “Breguet” and the number of the watch sets off the top of the dial. Arabic numerals mark the mother-of-pearl halo on the offset dial.
And carrying the quill theme even further, the side of the oval case is meticulously engraved with feathers.
Inside, the numbered and signed self-winding Breguet Caliber 586/1, with forty hours of power reserve and a silicon balance spring, has a beauty all its own. The rotor is engine-turned platinum, visible through the case back.
Breguet U.S. exhibition
If you, like me, appreciate all things Breguet, mark your calendars for an upcoming U.S. exhibit. Hosted by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California, the largest collection of Breguet timepieces to ever make it to the Americas will be on display. “Breguet: Art and Innovation in Watchmaking” starts September 19, 2015 and runs through January 10, 2016, at the special exhibition galleries of Rosekrans Court at the Legion of Honor. For more on this exhibition, please visit www.legionofhonor.famsf.org/calendar/docent-tour-breguet-art-and-innovation-watchmaking.
As an aside, if I’m ever incarcerated, I’ll take a lesson from Marie Antoinette. Please forego the metal file and bring me a watch.
Case: 33 x 24.95 mm, white gold or pink gold
Movement: automatic Breguet Caliber 586/1 with silicon balance spring; 40 hours power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Diamond setting: bezel and flange with 94 brilliant-cut diamonds (spprox. 2.42 ct), quill motif with 20 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 0.42 ct), claw-set trapeze-cut diamond (approx. 0.24 ct), 76 brilliant-cut snow-set diamonds (approx. 0.778 ct), crown with briolette (approx. 0.28 ct), attachment with 22 brilliant-cut snow-set diamonds (approx. 0.41 ct), folding clasp set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.14 ct); total more than 4 ct
Limitation: limited production
Price: $140,300 (white gold), $139,300 (pink gold)