Breguet's Newest Tradition
 
Few companies are as steeped in traditon as Breguet; as an 18th Century master watchmaker, Abraham Louis Breguet was perhaps the greatest that ever lived and in modern times, as part of the ubiquitous Swatch Group the brand has endeavoured to uphold its founder's reputation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the brand's Tradition collection, an acknowledgement of historical styling showcasing much of the brand's technological expertise. The Traditon collection, along with the works of modern greats such as George Daniels and Roger Smith, displays the influence of Abraham Louis Breguet to a degree of authenticity that extends far beyond the mere name.
 
The Tradition collection has become a symbol of the famous house's past and future and as such each new addition is meticulously considered, be it a contemporary example demonstrating modern finishing processes or a 'Haute Horlogerie' masterpiece that boast several inventions of the man himself.
 
2010 Novelties: The Highlights
 
 
Tradition 7057
 
Embodying both a return to the company’s roots and its vision of the future, the Tradition product line now includes a 7057 model with a white gold case 40 mm across. Its unconventional design reveals the details of its hand-wound movement, arrayed on either side of the mainplate. An aperture at ten o’clock in the silvered gold dial, engine-turned by hand, features the bridge of the 50-hour power-reserve indicator. Its sandblasted finish and symmetrical bridge positions create a cooly understated composition visually enhancing the movement’s various gears and its pare-chute, the shock-protection device invented by Breguet in 1790.
 
 
 
Traditon 7047: Featuring tourbillon, fusee and silicon balance spring.
 
After nearly four years of service in various watch movements, Breguet’s flat silicon balance springs have posted absolutely conclusive results, allowing the company to turn its attention to the development of springs featuring the famed “Breguet overcoil” terminal curve. Producing a curve in a sliver of silicon to give it a third dimension represents a quite considerable watchmaking exploit. Usually cut from flat silicon wafers, the springs remain simple flat strips. Silicon having none of the malleability of metal, getting it to form a bend rising up from the coil required a complete rethinking of the overall production process. The Breguet overcoil silicon balance spring will now be adding its specific advantages to those of silicon on all Breguet calibres,
whatever their basic configuration. Today the new “Breguet overcoil silicon balance spring” is found in the Breguet Tradition 7047 timepiece with tourbillon and fusee-and-chain transmission. Recalling the constructional scheme of the first tourbillon pocket watches built by Breguet, this model is presented in a platinum version with a movement treated with an anthracite-toned grey metal compound. Its surface finish results from a new and improved electrodeposition process involving an alloy of precious metals of the platinum group darker in hue than ruthenium.
 
The fusee-and-chain transmission connected to the barrel maintains a constant force for as long as the watch is running. A number of patent applications cover the large tourbillon resonator at one o’clock on the watch face, one for a titanium balance and three relating to Breguet silicon balance springs. A further patent was awarded for the power-reserve indicator fitted directly on the barrel.
 
Displaying impressive technical sophistication, the Breguet Tradition 7047 is the pride of Manufacture Breguet. As always an undisputed pioneer in horological research and development, Breguet’s creative achievements are soon turned into practical technical advances found in timepieces marketed promptly, without undue delays or quantitative limitations.
 
Reine de Naples, Automatic Strike
 
Away from the Traditon collection, Breguet has created something truly magnificent; a worthy highlight of any exhibition, this stunning timepiece represents not only the pinnacle of modern ladies' wristwatches but also the origin.
 
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the design of the first wrist-worn watch, ordered from Breguet by Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples. The anniversary offers Breguet the opportunity to add the first Grande Complication design to the Reine de Naples collection for ladies only: automatic strike. This elaborate “complication” marks the hours automatically every hour on the hour with two strikes, repeated three times, a charming and discreet way of signalling the passage of time. A pushpiece opposite 2 o’clock allows the wearer to deactivate this function. The automatic strike is featured on a new egg-shaped movement from the Breguet workshops, developed specifically for women’s watches. It combines the sophistication of automatic strike with the subtle beauty of a design entirely engraved and decorated by hand. Along with the usual technical considerations, its makers factored in their aesthetic ambitions in addition to the results of fundamental research by Breguet technical specialists on the acoustics of watches featuring striking and repeater mechanisms. The shape of the new movement’s bridges and oscillating weight as well as the details of its decorative work come together to form the image of a dove in flight, visible on the underside of the watch through a clear sapphire back plate. Its white gold case sets off the watch’s white mother-of-pearl dial, framed by a bezel entirely set with diamonds. Separated by a diamond
 
 
 
 
that signals the start of the strike, the hammers are visible on the upper part of the dial, at eleven and at one o’clock. A true masterpiece of Haute Horlogerie, the Reine de Naples Sonnerie design embodies to perfection Nicolas G. Hayek’s remark about Breguet: “Breguet is the perfect meeting of beauty and advanced technology.”
 
In addition to these excellent novelties, this year's Baselworld exhibition saw the the introduction of the Type XXII 3880 ST and the Marine Royale 5847, both of which fall into the brand's aviation and nautical inspired collections respectively.
 
Despite criticism from a small number of purist connoissuers that the prestigeous company has lost its way under Swatch ownership, these latest offerings from Breguet clearly demonstrate the brand's status as one of the industry's elite manufacturers. One can easily find, within Breguet's collections, innovation comparable to that of Ulysse Nardin or Audemars Piguet as well as a level of finishing to rival that of Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe.
 
Breguet and Daniel McNutt (Apr 2010)
 
For more information visit www.breguet.com
Images: Breguet
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