Those familiar with Breguet’s great history know that its founder, Abraham-Louis Breguet, was watchmaker to French royalty. In fact, he made the first women’s wristwatch back in the early 1800’s – for Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples and sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. The request was for a “thin, oblong repeater watch with a silver dial and Arabic numerals, mounted on a wristlet of hair woven with gold threads.” Abraham-Louis Breguet received the request in 1810 and delivered the watch in December 1812, according to brand archives. Unfortunately, that watch has since been lost, but not its memory. It was just about a decade-and-a-half ago that Breguet honored that first wristwatch with a dedicated collection: Reine de Naples – and for 2017, some new models are offered, including the “Mini” ref. 8928.
Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples and sister of Napoleon Bonaparte
The Reine de Naples watches are, as one might expect, oval shaped like the original. Additionally, depending on the timepiece, the watches are bedecked with jewels, feature exceptional detailing and even offer added complications. This is an exceptional line and one the brand continually evolves and grows – regularly offering new versions.
Two new models in the 2017 Reine de Naples collection, the 8965 and the 8918
This year, in fact, the luxury Swiss watch brand unveiled several new Reine de Naples versions, including models with dark Tahitian mother-of-pearl dials (ref. 8918) and a Princess version with shimmering white mother-of-pearl dial (Ref. 8965). However, the one that really caught our eye is the Breguet Reine de Naples Mini ref. 8928.
For the first time, Breguet developed the smaller-scale oval case size, measuring 33mm x 24.95mm. The size is perfect for the petite wrist. Characterized by the off-center hour and minute indication – found in a subdial on the lower portion of the watch dial – the new Reine de Naples Mini watch sports highly stylized numerals with a shadow effect of black and a color (depending on the model). The numerals are graduated in size, with the Arabic 12 taking almost the entire top half of the dial for dramatic appeal.
There are six different models of the Reine de Naples Mini, each crafted in either 18-karat white gold or 18-karat rose gold. Again, our favorite is a white gold version with hot pink accents. The watch, with beautifully fluted case sides is set with diamond brilliants on the bezel and on the bottom case lug. Additionally, the crown – nicely position at 4:00 so as not to interfere with the oval case shape – is created in cabochon style with diamond briolettes. There is also an inner flange surrounding the dial that is bedecked with diamonds. Even the folding clasp is set with diamonds.
The classical elegance of the fluted case and the diamonds is offset by a shimmering white mother-of-pearl dial with bold Arabic numerals in hot pink and black. It is finished with a hot pink leather calfskin strap that complements the pink numerals and brings the watch full circle. Other versions offer the same blend of color, classic elegance and individual style.
Making the watch even more appealing is what’s inside. Rather than take the easy way and equip the petite watch with a quartz movement, Breguet chooses to chock it full with brains to match the beauty. The Caliber 586/1 mechanical self-winding movement powers the watch. This particular caliber is totally in keeping with Breguet’s high standards of craftsmanship and technology. It features a silicon balance wheel that helps to reduce friction and, therefore, increases time needed between servicing. As is Breguet’s tradition with the Reine de Naples series, each movement and each case is individually signed and numbered. The watch beats at 3Hz offers 38 hours of power reserve (rather long considering the 15mm diameter of the movement).
This pretty-in-pink model (which retails for $36,100) is offered in three variations. There is also a black satin-strapped model for evening occasions and – even more tantalizing—there is a white or pink gold bracelet model. The bracelet is a work of woven gold and feminine curves for ultimate beauty. Not only does it look great on the wrist, but it is so meticulously made and incredible supple that it feels like silk against the skin. Maybe that is exactly what Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, originally intended and Abraham-Louis Breguet delivered. More details on www.breguet.com.
Technical Specifications – Breguet Reine de Naples Mini 8928
- Case: Oval shaped – 33mm long x 24.95mm large x 8.50mm thick – 18k white gold or 18k pink gold – diamonds on the bezel / crown – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Dial: natural white mother-of-pearl, black printed numerals – blued steel hands
- Movement: Calibre 586/1, in-house – automatic with platinum oscillating weight – 3Hz frequency – 38h power reserve – 29 jewels – hours and minutes
- Reference: 8928
- Price: from USD 36,100
This article has been written by Roberta Naas, founder of A Timely Perspective; and author of six books on watches.