Breguet Duc d’Orleans Sympathique

A testimony to the world of horology, a unique and important Breguet timepiece was auctioned by Sothebys in 2012. The Duc D’orleans Breguet Sympathique is an ormolu mounted red tortoiseshell boulle style royal sympathique quarter striking clock that has a half quarter repeating gold watch that could be automatically wound, set and regulated via the clock tower.

The Breguet Sympathique has the most complex mechanism of all known timepieces. The d’Orleans is the only Sympathique known to wind, set to time and regulate a watch through an integrated cradle mounted on the clock’s pediment.

Almost equally impressive as Breguet’s Marie-Antoinette‘s pocketwatch, the Duc d’Orleans Sympathique is a prime example of Abraham-Louis Breguet‘s genius, passion, and artisan craftsmanship. The Duc d’Orleans Sympathique has a five inch dial with enamel chapters and outer silver rings, signed Breguet MDCC-CXXV, two train square plated movement signed Breguet No. 128, with eight-day Graham-type deadbeat escapement, the escape wheel teeth pierced for oil retention, jeweled pallets and beat adjustment on the crutch, quarter striking on two bells with cadrature mounted on the backplate, a tandem wheel on the striking barrel drives a separate train for winding the watch, and the gridiron pendulum with gilt lenticular bob insert with an inlaid silver center.





The intricate detailing of Breguet and his wonderful craftsmanship continue with a Sympathique mechanism with three control wires rising above to the watch holder, the richly decorated case veneered overall with red tortoiseshell inlaid with gilt-brass and pewter scrolls, strap work and cornucopia, the watch holder set on the “tiled” cresting above lion masks holding a garland of fruit, the angled corners with studious winged putti finials above a satyr mask and shell frieze, the angled corners with Corinthian-capped pilasters inhabited by musical putti, the slightly out-swept base with decorated moldings and raised on gadrooned feet, the sides and back inlaid with the Duc d’Orléans’ cypher surmounted by a crown, the glazed front door bordered with ormolu roundels depicting the signs of the Zodiac.

The Watch

No. 5009, with silvered dial Signed Breguet has a finely engraved foliate center with sectors for state of wind and regulation, the movement with lever escapement, half-qaurter repeating on a single gong, two-armed compensation balance with parachute suspension and spiral steel spring with terminal curve, the gold engine-turned case with concealed winding and setting in the band, with a gilt roundel applied with the Duc’s cypher to occupy the vacant watch aperture during the day.

Background Information

Duc d’Orleans sought to combine the latest horological technologies with an innovative, and luxurious design that would compliment the beautiful aesthetics of his royal apartments in Pavillon de Marsan. During this time period, Breguet was already a premiere watchmaker and established as one the country’s prominent watch and clock maker for the French Royal family which included Marie Antoinette as well as many other European monarchs and nobility. Also, the Duc and his family were no strangers to Breguet, and the d’Oreleans family had been faithful patrons since the horologist’s beginnings in 1775. Therefore, it was an easy decision to have Breguet commissioned to create the advanced and innovative Sympathique clock.

The Breguet Breguet Duc d’Orleans Sympathique was sold at Sotheby’s “Important Watches & Clocks” auction on December 4, 2012 for $6,802,500 USD.



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