The Art of Cameo Engraving

Breguet’s ladies’ timepieces incorporate one the most time-honored and elegant decorative art forms known to man – the art cameo. Dating back to the 3rd century BC in Greece and renowned in Naples, Italy, this ancient craft of engraving sea shells by hand is still flourishing within Breguet’s Reine de Naples Cammea watches and Secret de la Reine pieces for women.


A unique piece, the Reine de Naples Cammea watch honors the craft tradition of cameo work, the world capital of which, Torre del Greco, is located in the region of Naples.

A work of engraving in high relief on materials having strata of contrasting colors, the cameo is one of the world’s most amazing craft activities where the frontiers with art are extremely fine. Originally done on such hardstones as sard or cornelian, cameos are also produced on shells.

Using a simple steel stylus, the craftsman works on the different layers of shell to a depth of hardly two millimeters, creating a sculpture of uncommon delicacy. To achieve this, he selects and examines with care the hues, the stratification, the perspectives, the gradations and the total effect of transparency inherent in the shell.

Montres Breguet honors this artistic vocation. The cameo dial of the Reine de Naples 8958 – a world first – is a true miniature sculpted on shell. The hours and minutes hands, off-center at 6 o’clock, seem intent on vanishing discreetly from the stage to leave all the glory to the art of the cameo. The case in white gold set with diamonds protects the delicacy of the relief beneath a sapphire-crystal glass. Its transparent back reveals a gold winding rotor engine-turned by hand and inlaid with natural mother-of-pearl.


  • Egg-shaped case in 18-carat white gold, with finely fluted case band. Bezel set with 40 diamonds (approx. 2.42cts). Crown set with a “briolette” diamond (approx. 0.26ct). Dimensions: 40x31.95mm. Sapphire-crystal caseback. Water-resistant to 30 meters.
  • Cameo dial carved out of a natural seashell (handmade raised relief-carving of the different layers of a seashell). Signed Breguet. Off-centered chapter-ring at 6 o’clock. Open-tipped Breguet hands in rhodium-plated gold. Each dial has a unique pattern.
  • Self-winding, numbered and signed Breguet. 8¾ lines. 20 jewels. Cal. 537/1. 40-hour power-reserve. 18-carat gold rotor hand-engraved on a rose-engine set with natural mother-of-pearl. Straight-line Swiss lever escapement. Monometallic 3Hz annular balance-wheel. Adjusted in 5 positions.
  • Strap with folding clasp set with 26 diamonds (approx. 0.14 cts).


In 1783, Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun painted a portrait of the French queen called Marie-Antoinette à la rose. In honor of its most famous client, Breguet became inspired by Marie-Antoinette’s world to create some exceptional pieces.

“La Rose de la Reine” collection has thus captured the rose the queen is holding in the picture and staged it in a cameo — the traditional southern Italian art of sculpture on the surface of a shell. Today Breguet has added a watch named “Secret de la Reine” to this suite of a ring, bracelet, earrings, a pendant and a sautoir necklace of Akoya pearls, either one or two meters in length.

In the tradition of secret watches where the time is hidden, pressing the cameo rose reveals the hours and minutes. The petals of the rose are reproduced in the minutest detail, while the company’s gem-setting skills are amply displayed on the dial and flange as well as on the collection’s emblematic bow.

In a case of white or rose gold, this model does not deter Breguet from fitting mechanical movements in watches for women. It therefore has a self-winding caliber 586 movement as well as non-reflecting glass on both sides.


  • Round case in 18-carat white gold. Unique sculpted floral cameo and bow decoration in 18-carat white gold paved with 431 brilliant-cut diamonds, pivoting on a shaft to reveal the time. Dial flange set with 48 diamonds.
  • Dial in silvered gold, set with 116 brilliant-cut diamonds. Breguet medallion in white mother-of-pearl inset at 12 o’clock. Open-tipped Breguet hands.
  • Self-winding movement. Numbered and signed BREGUET. Cal. 586, 6¾ lignes, 29 jewels. 38 hours power reserve. In-line Swiss lever escapement. Flat silicon balance-spring. 3Hz frequency.
  • Heat-pleated leather strap with folding clasp paved with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds.
  • Approx. 3.6 cts of diamonds in total.

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