The Art of Breguetby George Daniels

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  • The Art of Breguet by George DanielsReview by: Silvio A. BediniIsis, Vol. 67, No. 4 (Dec., 1976), pp. 639-640Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 09/05/2014 00:53

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  • BOOK REVIEWS-ISIS, 67 * 4 * 239 (1976) 639

    the equations in the "Theory of the Moon" are significantly altered in the Scholium, and a second equation there becomes evanescent. The reasons for these altera- tions remain obscure.

    As Cohen indicates, we do not yet have a "thorough and accurate critical history" of Newton's researches in lunar theory. Furthermore, as he implies, no such ac- count can be written without access to various unpublished manuscripts. One wishes that some of these manuscripts could have been published along with, say, one version of the "Theory of the Moon." However, the inclusion of four versions, differing in rather minor details, provides us with answers to some bibliographical questions and moves us some way toward the writing of the critical history Cohen desires.


    St. John's College Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

    George Daniels. The Art of Breguet. xi + 394 pp., 12 color plts., 47 illus., gloss., app., index. London/New York: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1975. $84; ?30.

    This work, monumental both in content and size, is itself a monument to the fore- most watchmaker in the history of horolo- gy, Abram-Louis Breguet (1747-1825). Born in Neuchatel, he moved with his family to Verriers and at the age of fifteen was apprenticed to a watchmaker at Ver- sailles, where he also attended evening classes at the College Mazarin. Through a contact with the Comte d'Artois, he was brought to the attention of the King at the very outset of his career, a factor which helped to advance it. A hiatus occurs at the end of his apprenticeship, and it has been variously speculated that he may have worked for the celebrated chronometer maker Ferdinand Berthoud before estab- lishing his own place of business about 1775, or that he lived and worked for a time in London.

    There is no record of watches he pro- duced before 1787, but he had a great interest in the improvement of the perpe- tuelle, or self-winding watch, which had been first produced a few years earlier in Switzerland, and he directed his entire attention to this project. Early in his career Breguet concluded that he did not foresee a career producing an endless stream of

    identical watches. While concentrating on improving the self-winding watch, he sold large numbers of simple and repeating watches, using basic movements imported from Switzerland which he completed with escapements, repeating work, and cases. For a number of years following, Breguet spent considerable time traveling through Europe selling clocks and watches bearing his name but of other manufacture.

    His friendship with and clientele among the French aristocracy forced him to flee France in 1793 to Switzerland, where he established a new workshop in the city of his birth. Meanwhile in France his property was confiscated, and he was declared an enemy of the people. When he returned to Paris in the spring of 1795 the country was in a state of economic crisis and his former patrons no longer existed, so he turned his attention to producing time- pieces for military and scientific use. It was in the period that followed that Breguet achieved the international reputation which has survived to the present. His clients numbered most of the crowned heads of the world; Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington wore only Breguet watches. He produced a great number of complicat- ed watch mechanisms, such as repeating and astronomical watches, as well as clocks, chronometers, and timepieces for special purposes. He scored great triumphs at the expositions of 1798 and 1819 and received many honors, including membership in the Academie des Sciences. He was made sup- plier to the Department de la Marine, and among the innovations for scientific purposes that came from his shops were the inking chronograph, the split-seconds timer, fine observatory regulators, and new developments in thermometers.

    George Daniels, who is by his own admis- sion a mechanic and not an historian, nevertheless writes clearly and effectively and has brought together the largest exist- ing body of historical and technical materi- als relating to Breguet's life and work. The sections on versatility and evolution of style, workshop practice, and mechanical tech- niques are the most valuable parts of this study.

    The folio-size volume is illustrated with fine color plates made from photographs taken by the author in which he has had remarkable success in eliminating the trou- blesome light reflections on brass and glass. The plates are supplemented by a wealth of clear drawings of mechanical parts which

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  • 640 BOOK REVIEWS-ISIS, 67 . 4 . 239 (1976)

    will delight the horological student. This work clearly presents Breguet as much more than the master horological crafts- man that indeed he was and successfully relates his work in its proper place in the history of science and technology.

    SILVIo A. BEDINI Museum of History and Technology

    Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C. 20560

    John Warwick Montgomery. Cross and Crucible: Johann Valentin Andreae (1586- 1654), Phoenix of the Theologians. (Interna- tional Archives of the History of Ideas, 55.) Volume I: Andreae's Life, World-View, and Relations with Rosicrucianism and Alchemy. xviii + 255 pp., 14 plts. Volume II: The Chymische Hochzeit with Notes and Commen- tary. x + pp. 257-577, facsimile reprint of 1690 London ed., bibl., name index. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973. 144 gldrs.

    Johann Valentin Andreae was a seven- teenth-century Lutheran theologian who had a strong amateur interest in contem- porary scientific issues which provided ma- terial for several of his literary works. What has made him important in terms of the context of seventeenth-century science has been the role he supposedly played in the early Rosicrucian movement and his es- pousal of an occult alchemical natural phi- losophy characteristic of that movement. John Warwick Montgomery's full-length study of Andreae, however, requires serious revisions of this portrayal, since it shows that it has been based upon poor scholarship and uncritically repeated mis- understandings of Andreae's central intel- lectual position fostered by partial and narrow considerations of his life and thought.

    Montgomery argues that Andreae was primarily a Lutheran pastor and theologian and that his other intellectual interests must be interpreted in terms of his orthodox Lutheran theology and social ethic. Montgomery's purpose is twofold. First, he wants to demonstrate that Lutheran the- ology did not stagnate in the seventeenth century but, contrary to the judgment of previous scholarship, was intellectually alive, conducive to scientific pursuits, and a stimulus to social concern and commit- ment. Second, he seeks to portray Andreae as a consistently orthodox Lutheran and

    not a youthful radical who dabbled in Rosicrucian mysticism only to turn con- servative in his later years.

    In the first volume Montgomery presents a thorough and meticulously researched treatment of Andreae's life, theology, sci- entific interests, and literary activities based upon a comprehensive and careful exami- nation of the extant sources. Here he places Andreae in the context of contemporary science and theology. This is a rich offering that will be of interest to historians of seventeenth-century theology, ethics, and church history as well as to historians of science and its intellectual context. While it is clear that Andreae was interested in new scientific ideas, Montgomery's thesis that Lutheran theology was conducive to a fruitful approach to nature and science receives little concrete support from An- dreae's Hfe, since he was not a practicing scientist. Andreae's chief scientific concern was alchemy: he was familiar with the new iatrochemical medicine and alchemy of the Paracelsians, and he employed alchemical terms, symbols, and the macrocosm-micro- cosm analogy in his discussions of natural and spiritual phenomena. Andreae's natu- ral philosophy, however, cannot be sub- sumed under some monolithic alchemical occultism. One of Montgomery's most in- teresting contributions is his argument that Andreae developed, on the foundations of his theology, a Christian conception of alchemy that stressed an empirical ap- proach to a practical alchemy directed to social benefits, not gold making, and a theocentric conception of spiritual alchemy in which the redemptive process depended upon God alone, separating Andreae from the "occultism" of Paracelsus and others whose Neoplatonic and Gnostic inspiration made their conception of alchemy esoteric and relatively anthropocentric.

    While the recognition of diversities with- in the alchemical conception of nature is welcome (so that the mere usage of certain terms or an interest in alchemy is not sufficient reason to classify a figure as an "occultist," a "hermeticist," or a "Rosicru- cian"), I do not think that the implications drawn from this recognition by Montgom- ery are entirely warranted. Not all schol- ars will agree that the beneficial contri- butions of alchemy to the development of seventeenth-century science are the mo- nopoly of the Christian alchemical philoso- phy of Andreae, confining the "esoteric"

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    Article Contentsp.639p.640

    Issue Table of ContentsIsis, Vol. 67, No. 4 (Dec., 1976), pp. 509-678Volume Information [pp.662-677]Front Matter [pp.509-511]Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time [pp.513-526]Of a Spirit in the Water: Some Early Ideas on the Aerial Dimension [pp.527-550]W. H. Pickering's Planetary Predictions and the Discovery of Pluto [pp.551-564]Balfour Stewart and Gustav Robert Kirchhoff: Two Independent Approaches to "Kirchhoff's Radiation Law" [pp.565-600]Ptolemy's Triangulation of the Eastern Mediterranean [pp.601-609]loge: Carl B. Boyer, November 3, 1906 - April 26, 1976 [pp.610-614]Book ReviewsThe Human Side of Genius--I [pp.615-617]The Human Side of Genius--II [pp.617-619]

    Bibliographical Toolsuntitled [pp.619-620]untitled [pp.620-621]

    Philosophy of Scienceuntitled [pp.621-622]untitled [pp.622-624]

    Scientific Institutionsuntitled [p.624]

    Mathematicsuntitled [pp.624-625]

    Physical Sciencesuntitled [pp.625-626]untitled [pp.626-628]

    Earth Sciencesuntitled [pp.628-629]

    Biological Sciencesuntitled [pp.629-630]

    Sciences of Manuntitled [p.630]

    Medical Sciencesuntitled [pp.630-631]untitled [pp.631-632]untitled [pp.632-633]

    Technologyuntitled [pp.633-634]

    Islamic Culturesuntitled [pp.634-636]untitled [pp.636-637]

    Renaissance & Reformationuntitled [pp.637-638]

    Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuriesuntitled [pp.638-639]untitled [pp.639-640]untitled [pp.640-641]untitled [pp.641-642]untitled [pp.642-643]untitled [pp.643-644]untitled [pp.644-645]untitled [pp.645-646]untitled [pp.646-648]

    Nineteenth & Twentieth Centuriesuntitled [pp.648-649]untitled [pp.649-650]untitled [pp.650-651]untitled [pp.651-652]untitled [pp.652-654]untitled [pp.654-655]untitled [pp.655-657]

    Contemporary Sciencesuntitled [p.657]untitled [pp.657-658]

    Back Matter [pp.659-661]


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