In the past, Breguet isn’t a watchmaker that we’ve covered in too much detail. However, the announcement earlier today by the Swatch Group, heavy of its new novelties for 2020, makes this as good a time as any to reacquaint you with a brand which has been around (in one form or another) since the Napoleonic era.
In an ode to the brand’s excellence in the art of engine-turning, Breguet has given two iconic models from the Classique range a discrete yet self-assured makeover. Starting this year, the references 7137 and 7337 will be available in either a rose gold case (with silvered dial) or a more contemporary white gold (with ‘Breguet blue’ dial). Both are housed within a 39mm format that puts them squarely in the universe of daily dress watches. Neither release will strike horologists as particularly ‘innovative’: a fact that’s entirely mitigated by the extremely fine look and finish evident in both references.
The Breguet Classique 7137
A quick primer (we promise it’s relevant): Breguet’s namesake — the legendary Swiss horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet — is best known for his creation of the tourbillon and constant force escapement. Yet, in accordance with prevailing tastes of the 18th century, he’s also widely remembered as a skilled dialmaker. The Classique 7137 embodies the latter legacy by incorporating three kinds of engine-turning: the technique whereby patterns are ‘stamped’ into watch-grade metal. At its pinnacle, this traditional decorative art form is held in the same esteem as other high European handcrafts.
In Breguet’s case, the brand is unquestionably operating at the higher end of the spectrum. On this dial, engine-turning comes in three flavours: the power reserve is decorated with a basket-weave pattern (panier maillé); the date display is checkered (damier); and the largest dial segment exhibits a hobnail motif (Clous de Paris).
The design language that informs the 7137, characterised by a fluted mid-case and various independent geometries upon the dial, is itself heavily inspired by the Perpetulle No. 5 pocket watch. Existing proponents of Breguet (and of old world horology more generally) will be pleased by just how much of the Perpetulle’s essence has been successfully migrated over to this new release. The dial houses the traditional Breguet-style hour-and-minute hands, a moonphase, age/date indicators, a power reserve; without the visual effect of feeling crammed or overly busy.
Breguet being Breguet, the watch’s movement certainly doesn’t play second fiddle to aesthetics. Looking through the caseback, you’ll see the calibre 502.3: an extremely thin movement that’s hand-finished and which incorporates the most modern technologies from the manufacture. Non-exhaustively, that means you’ll get a suite of performance-enhancing components such as a silicon balance spring and open barrels. The off-centre rotor certainly removes the need for a daily wind, though it’s certainly splendid-looking — with a level of handmade detail echoing the intricate craftsmanship of the dial.
The Breguet Classique 7337
Like the aforementioned reference, the 7337 takes updated visual queues from a historic Breguet invention — the No. 3833 quarter-repeating pocket watch. Fundamentally, this is the same model as its predecessor, albeit with a few changes manifested on the dial. In contrast to the previous iteration of the Classique 7337 (which displayed somewhat more conventional kinds of finishing), multiple kinds of increasingly elaborate engine-turning are visible: the chapter ring edges are now decorated with a circular grain d’orge motif, while you’ll find the damier checkerboard pattern inside the running seconds.
Powering this whole handsome enterprise is the calibre 502.3 QSE1. The number designation outs this as being fundamentally identical to what you’ll find in the 7137: expect a 45-hour reserve in an extra-thin package, sporting the characteristic hand-detailed, off-centre rotor in solid gold.
The Breguet Classique 7137 and 7377 will both be available in white and rose gold (exact pricing and availability TBA). To learn more about the latest releases, visit Breguet online.