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The Bréguet of Marie-Antoinette

The private Marie-Antoinette's clock, one of the most complicated ever outputs of the workshop of a watchmaker, has been completely redone by its original designer, Breguet, which submitted Friday to salon watches Basel after three and a half years of work. The wife of Louis XVI, guillotined in 1793, never saw the watch that bears his name : it was commissioned for her by a mysterious officer in his custody six years before the Revolution. At the time, the watchmaker Abraham neuchâtelois, 1775, had the task of making the most incredible clock, "with the latest developments of the time, with no price limit or Delivery time.  The Switzerland worked slowly so the clcok was still far from being finished when the Revolution exploded. Loyal to the late king, Breguet and its successors finisihed it in 1827, 44 years after the order. Two centuries later, the Swiss Swatch group, the first global watchmaker Breguet and owner since 1999, has created a replica of the precious jewel, a large pocket watch in 18-carat gold crimped with 63 precious stones, with a glass Rock crystal, which reveals the full complexity of the mechanism.  "Three years ago we decided to make this watch ourselves. This has been a big challenge", claimed Nicolas Hayek, presenting the clock at the World watches Basel. The original was stolen in 1983 from a museum in Jerusalem, where it w s exposed. The engineers Breguet have been unable to consult the model to restitute the famous "160 clock" the code name of the object.  They did consult the archives of the time, hold at the Museum Breguet in Paris. Swatch must now decide what to do with the masterpiece : Nicolas Hayek says he will decide before the end of the show, on April 10, if he sells. In the latter case, the watchmaker plans to produce one to two copies per year, at a price that remain to be determined.  As for the original shows, it has undergone funny  adventures since his disappearance and was found at the end of last year's Israel Museum, which has paid an unspecified amount to be recovered since but refuses to expose it. Nicolas Hayek says he received shortly before an anonymous phone call from someone offering to sell the object. The correspondent said to have paid himself $ 165,000 (105,000 euros) and demanded an offer of a higher amount, according to Mr. Hayek.  The legendary clock is exhibited in a wooden casket from the favourite tree of Marie-Antoinette, who was killed in the park of the chateau of Versailles. Mr. Hayek had offered to buy the tree, but the wood he was finally kindly provided by the State french. In exchange, Swatch has funded the restoration of the Petit Trianon, the palace favorite of the queen, for 5 millions euros.

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