Sir Winston Churchill may not have been the obvious choice for British Prime Minister, but Breguet certainly was his. Taking office during the Second World War, Churchill was one of many high profile figures to select Breguet as his preferred watchmaker. A lifelong patron of the brand, Sir Winston Churchill wore his Breguet No. 765, also known as “The Turnip”, all his life.
For the movie “Darkest Hour” Breguet made a replica of this exceptional rattrapante chronograph – and worn by Gary Oldman portraying the former Prime Minister. Both the movie and Mr. Oldman have been nominated for an Academy Award. The ceremony took place last Sunday and we are delighted when we learned that Gary Oldman won – it was about time! But now, let’s take a look at the pocket watch, Breguet made for the movie.
The Breguet No. 765, with minute repeater and split-second seconds hand was commissioned in 1890 by Churchill’s grandfather, John Spencer-Churchill. It became Churchill’s faithful timekeeper which he would use in favour of all others, much to the distress both his family and manor staff. But the 765 was not his only Breguet watch. Like many men of his stature, the pocket watch was favoured over the wristwatch, which was becoming fashionable and considered the more practical choice by today’s standards; yet as a testament to Abraham-Louis Breguet’s keen eye for refined aesthetics, the unmistakeable Breguet style codes engineered in the 18th century continue to be honoured today. They remain a constant feature, unchanged, and instantly recognisable. His design aesthetic is undoubtedly timeless.
Churchill’s pocket watch was laden with a heavy gold waistcoat-chain and a secondary small case for holding gold sovereigns. The white enamel dial is dominated by big, elegant Arabic numerals and two subdials.
An important Breguet invention and movement that can be found in the Breguet No. 765 is the minute repeater. Having invented the gong spring in 1783, Breguet has continued to develop this movement. The movement features multiple striking mechanisms for repeating watches, in particular for the quarters, half-quarters and minutes.
The original Breguet No. 765 sits proudly on view at the Churchill War Rooms in London, as part of the Imperial War Museum, still in perfect working order.