You’d be right to think of the Breguet Perles Imperiales Haute Joaillerie watch as reminiscent of a queen’s crown. Inspired by the adornments worn by Josephine de Beauharnais, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte and the first empress of France, the piece is a throwback to a period of magnificence and grand taste, drawing inspiration from a gold, enamel, and diamond-encrusted montre a? tact, or tact watch, created by the late Swiss jeweler and horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet.
In the late 18th century, it was considered improper to read the time while in the company of others, so Breguet created the tact watch, a system that offers the time by the sense of touch. We imagine Josephine consulted the watch whenever she was with Napoleon—their marriage, according to history, was not all moonlight and roses.
The Breguet Perles Imperiales Haute Joaillerie watch and jewelry set adorned with pearls and diamonds. Top: Empress Josephine de Beauharnais, in a portrait by Francois Gerard, 1801.
The modern version of the Perles Imperiales would have fulfilled the empress’ appetite for all things that glitter. Almost six carats of diamonds have been strewn on the accessory. Brilliant-cut sparklers surrounding the bezel’s rim, which accentuate the oval shape of the case, lend the look of a queen’s diadem to the watch. A row of diamonds beneath the prongs, held in place by delicate gold wire, and four diamond markers, at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, also add to its brilliance.
And then there are the pearls—a strikingly large Akoya pearl for the white gold version, and a Tahitian pearl for the rose gold set, each rests like a waterdrop at the bottom of the dial. Empress Josephine would have approved and ogled this watch any chance she could. This is a timepiece that should never be hidden from view.
Lucerne, Shangri-La Plaza, 634.3161.