Hands-On with a $1.8-Million Watch

A Rare Encounter with the Breguet No.5

As you can probably imagine, writing about mechanical watches occasionally allows you to get in contact with some comparatively expensive models — which usually means a price tag somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000 — in extremely rare cases even up to $700,000. But almost never beyond that (if we are talking about watches not sold in auctions, but in retail stores).


The Breguet No.5 shown here has a list price of $1,800,000 and is most likely the most expensive serially produced pocketwatch currently available for sale. It’s succinctly described on the manufacturer’s website as the following:

“Perpétuelle pocket watch with ‘à toc’ quarter repeater in 18K yellow gold. Dial in silvered gold, engine-turned by hand, with recessed subdial for the seconds. 60-hour power-reserve indicator and display of the phases and age of the moon. Chapter ring with Roman numerals engraved and painted black by hand.”

What makes this timepiece so special is that it is a faithful replica of a pocketwatch that was finished by Breguet in 1794; the series it belonged to was made until 1815. It featured Abraham-Louis Breguet’s own design for an automatic winding mechanism (thus “perpetual”, a name he gave to his self-winding watches) which incorporated several improvements that were much more efficient than previous concepts. The carefully balanced oscillating weight, for example, reacted better to the wearer’s movement, resulting in a watch that could be wound and used more conveniently by someone with a less active lifestyle (which was, 150 years before the invention of jogging, most likely very suitable for anyone who could afford such a watch). And its 60-hour power reserve even allowed its owner to leave it unattended for more than two days (that is, if the domestic servants of the household could be trusted). Of course, the power-reserve display, moon-phase indicator, subsidiary seconds dial, and quarter repeater are also worth mentioning.


In 2004, today’s Breguet company began production of its No.5 replicas. The model itself is not limited (at least not by numbers) and comes with a 54-mm yellow gold case, a platinum oscillating weight, and a hand-painted dial in silvered gold. Both the case and dial are guilloché-engraved in traditional Breguet style. And just look at the box it comes in:


Thanks to the Breguet boutique at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for allowing us this close-up look at this remarkable watch!

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