Thursday, 12 July 2018

Emperor Alexander I’s Breguet Pedometer Watch

On May 15th 1821 Emperor Alexander I purchased a military field pedometer watch from the famous French watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet for 1,800 francs.

Photograph c1859 (below) of Alexander’s Bedroom in the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo
The Breguet watch measured the rate of marching rather than time. The silver dial had a range from 60 to 195 and the arrow counted the corresponding number of oscillations per minute. During parades the emperor was able to control the pace of marching troops by counting the steps per minute.

Photograph (below) of Alexander’s Breguet Pedometer Watch
 
Breguet watches were bought by European royals before the revolution and after, from Napoleon to the Prince Regent. Breguet worked in St. Petersburg from 1808 to 1811 when he left due to decreasing sales. After the Napoleonic wars, the expensive watches were again popular among royals and aristocrats.

Exhibition Catalogue (below) of Breguet watches in the Hermitage Collection


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