Montres Breguet S.A. held a gala dinner at the Louvre Museum in Paris on June 17, highlighting its role as a major sponsor of the restoration of the museum’s Department of Decorative Arts rooms and galleries devoted to the art of French living in the 18th century. Those rooms, encompassing 2,500 square feet of space, had been closed to the public for nearly 10 years during the renovation. The entire area has been revamped and is now reopened to the public.
Breguet’s patronage of the renovation began in 2009 under the direction of the late Nicolas G. Hayek Sr., then CEO of Montres Breguet and chairman of the Swatch Group. The firm contributed several million euros to the project.
The Louvre restoration is the latest in a series of patronage projects Montres Breguet has undertaken in Paris and Versailles in recognition of the strong connection of Abraham-Louis Breguet with those places. A-L. Breguet was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 1747, but he studied watchmaking in France and opened his atelier in Paris in 1775. During his lifetime, Breguet watches were exhibited at the Louvre, first in 1802 at the Louvre’s Exhibition of Industrial Products. The museum has a number of valuable Breguet watches in its watch collection.
To celebrate the completion of the renovation of the rooms, Montres Breguet invited 300 guests from around the world to an evening at the Louvre. It began with private tours of the renovated rooms, which house the museum’s holdings of 18th century art, furniture and precious objects. Following that, Swatch Group Chairwoman Nayla Hayek – daughter of Nicolas Hayek and mother of current CEO of Montres Breguet, Marc A. Hayek – welcomed guests at a cocktail reception in the Hall Napoleon and a dinner under the museum’s famous glass pyramid. After dinner, there was a concert by operatic singer Polina Pasztircsák, winner of the 65th Geneva International Music Competition, which Montres Breguet sponsors.
The previous evening, Montres Breguet took some guests to Versailles outside Paris for a similar evening of tours, cocktails and dinner at Le Petit Trianon. A jewel of French neoclassical architecture, the small palace is closely associated with Queen Marie Antoinette. Her husband, Louis XVI, gave the palace to her and it became the primary residence for her and her entourage. In 2008, Montres Breguet donated more than 5 million euros to help renovate the palace, in recognition of the queen’s role in helping to establish the young watchmaker in Paris. Marie Antoinette was a customer of Abraham-Louis Breguet. Her fondness for Breguet watches, observed at the royal court, was a major factor in Breguet’s early success.