For our final ‘Complication of Christmas’, we bring you one of the greatest horological stories ever told of the incredible Marie Antoinette ‘Grande Complication’ pocket watch number 160 from Breguet.

A Chronology of the Marie Antoinette Grande Complication:

1783: Commissioned from Abaraham-Luois Breguet by secret admirer for Marie Antoinette (possibly Hans Axel von Fersen)
1789-1795: Work stops as Breguet in exile in Switzerland and England to escape the guillotine
1793: 16th October. Marie Antoinette executed by guillotine (her promiscuity and extravagance were factors in here prosecution!)
1810: Hans Axel von Fersen beaten to death by a mob in a Stockholm square accused of involvement in the death of Crown Prince Charles August of Sweden
1823: Breguet dies
1827: Watch completed by Breguet’s son Antoine-Louis
1838: A French Nobleman, the Marquis de la Groye of Provins, returned the watch to Breguet for repairs but never collected it
1887: Sold to Sir Spencer Brunton for £600.00
1920s: In the collection of Sir David Lionel Salomons
1925: Sir David Lionel Salomons dies
1974: His daughter Vera bequeaths the watch to the L.A Mayer Institute for Islamic Art in Jerusalem (built with Sir David’s money)
1983: April 16th, before 10.30am, the watch is stolen from the Institute by Na’aman Diller

Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette Number 160
Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette Number 160

2003: April – Na’aman Diller and Nili Shamrat marry
2004: May – Na’aman Diller dies
2004: Replica commissioned by Nicolas G. Hayek
2006: August – Lawyer Hila Efron-Gabai called at the Tel Aviv antiques shop run by Zion Yakubo on the instructions of Nili Shamrat (Diller’s wife) in an attempt to return the watches to the Institute
2007: November – National Newspaper Haaretz reveals that the watch was back in the Institute for Islamic Art in Jerusalem and police start investigating
2008: May – LAPD arrive at Nili Shamrat’s apartment with a search warrant
2008: Replica number 1160 completed
2010: Nili Shamrat was convicted in the US Courts and received 300 hours of community service and a five year suspended prison sentence for possessing stolen goods

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