In-Depth: Does Great Movement Finishing Mean A Great Watch?



The Breguet No. 1176 is an interesting case in point. The watch was made for a prominent Polish nobleman, Count Stanislaus Potocki, and was one of what Breguet called his garde temps watches – generally, extremely high-grade timepieces made for clients with an interest in the pursuit of chronometry for its own sake. Certainly, the movement is beautiful, but it is in contrast to earlier watches in which precision in timekeeping could not be expected and which were often ornamented with a view to making them more entertaining toys to look at (like almost generalization you care to make about watchmaking, there are exceptions, but I think the assertion is reasonably valid). The movement is very beautiful, assuming you are moved to call a hand-made high precision, high-craft machine beautiful, but the various contrasting finishes are the result of the pursuit of durability, longevity, and precision. Fire-gilding and the bluing and polishing of steel parts all help retard corrosion, and the beautiful symmetry of the movement, and the visually pleasing dimensions and form of the tourbillon, are the consequence of the fact that if the potential exists to make a precise timekeeper, what might in the past have been a reasonable degree of imprecision can no longer be tolerated. Advances in precision in the oscillator mean that imprecision elsewhere, which would not have been evident in one of the crude early watches of the 16th century, can no longer be tolerated.



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