The historic and storied watchmaking house Breguet created the first wristwatch ever made. It was crafted specially for Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, younger sister of Napoléon Bonaparte, who was a big supporter of the arts, eventually acquiring over 30 watches and clocks by the Parisian watchmaker. The unprecedented design, which began in 1810, was to create a watch to be worn on the wrist. Delivered two years later, the oblong-shaped timepiece with an engine-turned silver dial was as ingenious as it was innovative. It included a number of complications, including a repeater, a moon-phase indicator, and a thermometer. A bracelet of hair and gold thread attached it round the wrist.
Over two centuries since its creation, the Reine de Naples in its various iterations remains a stalwart of the Breguet collections. This year, the timepiece has been the inspiration for a pioneering new invention. Magically, a hand in the shape of a changing heart moves across the face of the watch. Its curves expand or contract very gently as it travels around the elongated oval dial. Created from rose gold, embellished delicately with diamonds, the exclusive Coeur, or Heart, edition is in a limited edition of just 28 pieces and comes with a matching clutch for its case, and is available only from a selection of Breguet boutiques.
The new system is protected by a number of patents. An innovative mechanism changes the heart shape of the minute hand – off-centre at six o’clock – depending on its position on the dial. Its curves stretch as the hand moves across the top half of the oval dial, and become more rounded at the bottom. It comprises two independent arms that, due to a set of gears, are capable of twisting to create the shape-changing heart. Another mechanism allows each arm to move at different speeds.
The white-lacquered dial itself is pared down, highlighting the elegance of the piece, while accents of vermilion red appear on the hour chapter, the leather strap and the ruby-set crown. The tip of the kinetic minute hand is finished with a subtle red heart.
This unexpected marriage of the romantic and the technical conjures up the magic of love, as the dynamic minute hand traces a heart of ever-changing shape, according to Breguet. Surely this timepiece, with its brainy innovatory engineering combined with a beautiful exterior, qualifies for the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift?