This is a story about one old verge fusee watch back from 1790’s French Revolution times.
That’s how the dial was looking when it has arrived to workshop. Can you read the name?
The case has significant deformation. Front bezel is bent, does not snap properly. Сase back is cracked. Silver body covered with black patina after many years without any cleaning and service.
The dial is rusty and tarnished, it looks hopeless to restore, but we will have to try…
Enamel parts look good but dirty and scratched. Metal base plate must be cleaned separately from the enamel parts.
To restore the dial, at first we must find a way how to dismantle enamel subdials from dial base plate. Enamel plates are mounted on tiny feet, fixed with thinner pins.
You can see the base plate foot and the enamel subdials feet.
Now, when pins are removed, enamel subdials are unmounted. Unweared fire-gilt surfaces can be seen under subdials. We must make all the darkened surface shine like a golden one.
Try 1 – Cleaning
First, we clean the base plate with an ultrasound machine and cleaning powder. Some tarnish removed, but the original gold plating has gone off, that’s why it looks uneven and stained.
We cannot improve it more by cleaning. No abrasive grinding or polishing can be used for the finest dial engraving.
The solution is gold plating. When the brass plate is released from any extra parts, it can be gilt again.
Try 2 – Gilding
We have adjusted galvanic parameters to make plating colour look like antique fire gilding. It is between “18K yellow gold” and “14K rose gold” colour.
Four layers of gold plating helped to achieve the right surface colour, something like honey-tint.
We assemble the dial, then mount enamel plates.
It looks significantly better, nevertheless antique enough to express its 200+ years age.
About this “Breguet”
Some final words about the watch itself. Unfortunately, it is not the original timepiece made by Abraham-Louis Breguet. It’s just a contemporary imitation from the times of French Revolution, 1790’s. Many of these “Breguet a Paris” imitations were manufactured in Switzerland from 1790’s up to 1840’s.
The movement uncovers the origins of this watch. Backplate is signed “Breguet a Paris”, it has a true spectacular and ornate balance cock. But it has simple verge & fusee movement type, generic mass-production 1790-1800. The true Breguet could not use such a cheap type of movement. There is no serial number, no secret signature, no ruby jewels and moreover it does not match the style of handcrafted Breguet masterpieces.
If you see a simple verge movement with fancy polychrome dial – obviously it can’t be an original Breguet. Many unknown contemporary makers have used the famous master inscriptions to add more value.
What’s about a watch? Is it valuable? A nice 200+ years working timepiece does have an interest for collectors.
Top enamel scene shows the brave lady with a shield, sword, and the flag of Revolution. She looks like Minerva, the roman goddess (Athena Pallada in Greek Pantheon). Despite the origin, it is still beautiful antique timeiece after restoration. It also illustrates the story of Abraham-Louis Breguet fame and popularity back in 1790’s.
What about original masterpieces made by A.-L. Breguet? Will appear a bit later, keep an eye on our site 😉
Here is original one from later 1890’s: Breguet No 4666.