Throughout history, mankind has invented numerous gadgets to measure time. Sundials, water clocks and hourglasses later evolved into mechanical clocks; timepieces sat in the most beautiful city squares, on walls, in the most visible parts of the home, and then found a place in vest pockets and finally turned into the indispensable accessories we wear on our wrists.
When the tick-tock workings of a timepiece that continuously remind us of the passing of time are united with an aesthetic design, the outcome can be a work of art.
The legendary clocks developed by the early 19th century watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet are cited among the masterpieces of horology. A tiny collection of these masterpieces that once witnessed history in Ottoman and European courts is currently on public display at İstanbul’s Topkapı Palace Museum.
On view at the palace’s Divit section, the exhibition offers a 15-piece selection from Breguet’s Ottoman collection, exhibited to the public for the first time in Turkey.
The pendule sympathique clocks are among the must-see pieces in the exhibition, which also includes a clock Breguet specially made for Sultan Mahmut II.
Breguet’s clocks are known to have been used by many important figures, such as Sultan Selim III, Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette, Czar Alexander I, Queen Victoria and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as being mentioned in books by Balzac and Pushkin.
Apart from clocks, the exhibition also features portraits of Ottoman sultans who lived during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and written correspondence between Seyit Ali Efendi, the first Turkish ambassador in Paris, and Breguet.
The Breguet collection, brought to Turkey by Tektaş AŞ, the Turkish distributor of Breguet clocks, will remain on view until Aug. 30 at Topkapı Palace.