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The origins of the Charles Oudin company lie with the famed Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), often considered the father of modern clockmaking. Charles Oudin the elder (1743–1803) worked in Breguet's workshop, where he was held in high esteem by the master.
It was Charles Oudin the elder's nephew, Jean-Charles, who would make the Oudin name famous. Initially working as part of Breguet's workshop, Oudin was given the unusual honour of being allowed to sign his pieces 'Charles Oudin, élève de Breguet'. In 1879, (Jean-) Charles established his own workshop in the Palais-Royal in Paris, where he remained for much of the 19th Century.
Charles Oudin products were greatly revered at the Great Exhibitions of the 19th Century, both for their decoration and for the complexity and precision of their mechanisms and designs. The firm would go on to supply clocks to important clients, including Emperor Napoleon III.
Today, antique Oudin timepieces are displayed in important collections across the world, including the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.