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One of the world’s largest watch collections, owned by a Dutch dynastic family that dates back to the 13th century, is going under the hammer at Bonhams in December.

Containing 2,000 timepieces, the collection belongs to the late Jan Willem Frederik baron van Wassenaer, and is so vast that the pieces will be sold in instalments, via various auctions, throughout 2016.

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Born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Abraham-Louis Breguet hailed from a bourgeois Protestant family that included several lawyers, teachers, pastors and merchants, but his own journey as a watchmaker began in his teens after his mother remarried one upon his father’s death.

Sent to Paris at the age of 15, he set up his atelier in 1775 on the Ile de la Cité and began his career with a series of inventions, including the automatic watch (known as perpétuelle), the gong spring for repeater watches, and the first shock-absorber device (the pare-chute).

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Swiss luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe is taking over London's Saatchi Gallery until June 7, which will be the brand's most ambitious exhibition to date.

As part of “Watch Art Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition," visitors will be able to see, for the first time in London, more than 400 historical timepieces­—some of them from the Patek Philippe Museum collection—including the first Swiss wristwatch, which was made for a woman.

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It's 11:59 A.M. on a recent Wednesday and Clare Vincent, a 78-year-old associate curator at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, is perched before an ornate 17th-century clock on the Met's first floor, keeping a close watch on a technician winding the timekeeper.

Visitors wandering among the Met's paintings, mummies and other treasures probably don't notice that every European clock on exhibit not only still ticks but also tells the right time.

That's because for 40 years, Ms. Vincent, who oversees the museum's European timepieces, has been making sure they are wound like clockwork. Until recently, she wound up to 15 clocks a week on her own, climbing stepladders to reach into the tallest ones. 

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Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:08

Important Timepieces on View at the Frick

The Frick Collection in New York is currently hosting the exhibition Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at the Frick Collection. The museum, one of the finest small art institutions in the U.S., is known for its illustrious collection of Old Master paintings, furniture and European timepieces.

Most of the Frick’s clocks and watches were acquired through a bequest from the New York collector Winthrop Kellogg Edey in 1999. Due to limited space in the museum’s permanent gallery, the Frick has only been able to exhibit part of Edey’s collection, which is comprised of 38 watches and clocks dating from the Renaissance to the 19th century. Precision and Splendor, which includes 14 watches and 11 clocks from Edey’s gift, allows patrons a rare, in-depth glimpse of the impressive collection.

In addition to a masterwork by Pierre de Fobis and significant timepieces by George Smith, Henry Arlaud, Julien Le Roy and Antoine-Louis Breguet, Precision and Splendor includes five clocks on loan from the established collector Horace Wood Brock. The works, which were created in 18th century France, have never been on view in New York City.

Precision and Splendor will be on view at the Frick Collection through February 2, 2014.

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