NEW: Breguet Reine De Naples Ref. 8938
Breguet’s Reine de Naples' rich, royal history gets a glittery embellishment.
I once remarked to a colleague that if money was no object and I wanted a ladies’ dress watch, I’d get a Breguet Reine de Naples. Of course, I’ve had this “if money was no object” conversation multiple times with different people (and myself), and there are plenty of watches I’d have in my non-existent watch safe if those conversations turned into reality. But since the possibility of that is even lower than Britney Spears getting out of her conservatorship, I guess I’ll just go back to mentally expanding my imaginary watch collection.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve singled out the Breguet Reine de Naples. It’s true there are many ladies’ dress watches in the market that are thoroughly elegant, look great on the wrist, with some even priced really competitively. But what nails it for me with the Reine de Naples is its story, and with a history as rich as Breguet’s, it’s inevitable there’d be a royal connection there somehow.
Having opened his Parisian workshop in 1775, one of Breguet’s most famous clients was then-General Napoléon Bonaparte who, as we all know, later became Emperor of France. While having Napoléon on your list of references is great and all, it was really Napoléon’s sister, Caroline Murat (above), who was the biggest aficionado in the family, with approximately 34 watches and clocks from Breguet. One of these, an ultra-thin timepiece with quarter repeater and thermometer, presented to her in 1812, was widely acknowledged to be the first wristwatch ever made.
But what of Murat’s connection to the Reine de Naples timepieces? Well, as wife to the King of Naples, Caroline Murat was known as the Queen of Naples, which translates in French to—you guessed it—Reine de Naples.
So significant was the patronage of Caroline Murat that, in 2002, Breguet (now under the umbrella of the Swatch Group) decided to launch a ladies’ collection, Reine de Naples, in tribute to Murat. Breguet president Marc A. Hayek once remarked, “You will never find a Breguet jewellery piece which has nothing to do with the Manufacture’s history.”
The DNA of the Reine de Naples watch centres around an oval-shaped dial, which is narrower at the top, has a crown at four o’clock, and a distinctive round lug at six o’clock. With dimensions averaging around 36.5mm x 28.45mm, depending on the model, the Reine de Naples is impeccably sized for feminine wrists—one of the many reasons that I'm drawn to it.
The latest edition, Ref. 8938, is an ultra-feminine piece, with an 18K white gold case featuring a bezel, dial flange, and lug set with 161 brilliant cut diamonds. To further up the glitter factor, the white gold dial is lavishly festooned with 384 diamonds in snow-setting, complemented by an off-centred mother-of-pearl chapter ring.
Blued steel Breguet hands and a crown set with a briolette diamond complete the look, along with a blue leather bracelet with gold clasp set with 28 brilliant-cut diamonds. A second version of this scintillating timepiece is also available in rose gold with an orange bracelet.
On the back, the sapphire caseback gives a glimpse into the self-winding Calibre 537/3 with platinum oscillating weight, as well as silicon escape wheel, in-line Swiss lever and balance spring. The in-house movement offers a respectable 45 hours of power reserve.
While the Reine de Naples may not have been created in Abraham-Louis Breguet’s time, it certainly looks like something he would have approved of. And with its lovely tribute to Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples, modern women would find it equally hard to resist.
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