Many wish that Breguet would remain close to its purely classical roots due to the brand’s historical nature and its innovative creations from the past. The interpretation and quality of their modern watches are definitely most different from when Abraham Louis Breguet patented his tourbillon escapement more than 200 years ago. For such a brand, which possesses a respectable amount of heritage, an alteration from the usual path can be quite controversial and might take time for the market to digest. However, given the expanding demographic of younger buyers, this might be the appropriate time to take on something new, perhaps on a modern canvas, with the DNA of a pioneering visionary in horological research and development.
The Tradition lineup might look contemporary at first. Still, it was a collection strongly inspired by the essence of Breguet’s pocket watches dating back to the late 18th century. At the time, Breguet came up with a subscription program to produce affordable watches for the public, some of which would feature a “tact watch” mechanism, a raised arrow on the outside of the cover that mirrors the position of the hour hand, so one can tell the time with courtesy by simply touching the watch. Other aesthetic elements such as symmetrical movement layout, centre barrel, and an off-center reduced-size dial, are now elegantly migrated to the Tradition line, as seen in this reference 7047 introduced in 2007, which offers an unconventional look by exposing the fusée mechanism in an asymmetrical fashion. While it looked experimental, and relatively large with the dimension of 41mm by 15.95mm, it certainly ascribed to the trend of large cases from a decade ago.
The reference 7047 has the iconic narrow lugs, coin-edged case in platinum and an exaggerated domed sapphire crystal. Despite the fact that it contributes a significant amount to the thickness of the watch, it also creates an exhibition-like display, in which you can appreciate the depth and layers of the elegantly proportioned calibre. The movement arrangement has a discrete architectural look, which has the feeling of a concrete pavilion with a curtain wall façade, and within, holds a classical triptych. The front of the watch showcases the captivating composition of the small time dial, tourbillon with the fusée and chain transmission, plus a power reserve indicator that is mounted on the barrel as a nice complementing detail. While the entire anthracite-toned movement is more on the contemporary side, the time dial retains a classical appearance. The gold dial is individually numbered and signed, paired with the blued moon-tipped hands, and the guilloché pattern makes for a calm and beautiful combination, which is nonetheless very legible.
The Breguet calibre 569 oscillates at 18,000 bph, and holds a decent 50 hours power reserve for a one-minute tourbillon. As simple as the specifications may sound, the pursuit of horological excellence can be found throughout the movement. The tourbillon cage, bridge and balance wheel are made of titanium for its lightness. As for the famous Breguet overcoil hairspring, silicon has been used for its superior characteristics over tempered steel or gold, namely being impervious to magnetic fields, its lightness, and resistance to shock and corrosion. In terms of the drivetrain, the fusée and chain is a constant force mechanism designed to minimize the diminishing of torque delivered against a traditional spring barrel. These elements make this time-only watch a very admirable and handsome-looking piece of horology.
Flipping over to the back of the watch, the colour scheme continues with the main plate, bridges and gears, but there is a subtle engraving: “Brevet du 7 messidor de l’an 9”. If you have ever spent time with a Breguet tourbillon, you will most likely encounter the same sentence engraved somewhere on the movement. The word ”brevet”, in French, means patent, and the second part of the sentence, “7 messidor de l’an 9”, is the date written in the Republican Calendar format (which was enforced in France at the time), and converts to 26th June 1801 in the Gregorian Calendar. The engraving marks the day when Abraham Louis Breguet obtained the right for his patent of the tourbillon, which has long expired, but remains a historically significant contribution and a meaningful invention.
Over the years, there have been variations of materials and dial for the reference 7047; an earlier model featured a yellow gold case, main plate, bridges and traditional heated blue screws contrasting with the titanium tourbillon it was perhaps the most appealing aesthetically, but is now no longer in the current catalogue. Breguet has eventually settled on three readily available options, two in rose gold and this particular platinum model, which is priced at 1,468,000 HKD at the time of writing. This watch has an all-round offering in terms of historical and horological value that is unique and competitive from other tourbillons produced to a similar standard in the market. As mentioned earlier, a design diverged from the expected path often requires a buffer for the public to digest, and after 13 years, the milestone of the fusée tourbillon will continue to gain recognition. We certainly hope that Breguet continues to explore the Tradition line in future timepieces.