There’s a bit from the genie of Abraham Louis Breguet in almost every mechanical timepiece even today. The age of enlightenment brought the desire to understand the world around us to the forefront, which fuelled natural sciences like petrol does flames. Mechanical engineering and watchmaking developed rapidly, producing working machines of all sorts – some for entertainment, others to make life easier and conquer previously unknown heights. Breguet has brought the mood for experimenting as well as the sense for beauty and the creator’s patience through centuries to 2015. We visited them at Baselworld.
Reine de Naples Haute Joaillerie & Rêve de Plume Haute Joaillerie
Let’s start with the queens. In the Reine de Naples collection Breguet’s visual artistic and technical qualities truly shine. The case houses a movement specially made for the Reine de Naples collection.
Last year one of my favourite complicated high jewellery pieces was the Reine de Naples Jour Nuit (day and night indicator), with its lapis lazuli sky, hand engraved Moon, mother-of-pearl clouds and gold stars. This spring Breguet showed us the rose gold version with more “Eastern” hues. The dial is Tahitian mother-of-pearl with an inner circle paved with 67 brilliant-cut diamonds. On the bracelet the 11 ruby cabochons give a nice warm tone via the rose gold and great brilliance with 658 brilliant-cut diamonds and 151 baguette diamonds.
Marie-Antoinette was one of the most interesting female figures of the 18th century; she was an imperial princess, and Hungarian and Czech royal princess, via her marriage to French King Louis XVI also the Queen of France and Navarra, who was executed at the time of the French Revolution. Marie-Antoinette was a great fan of fashion and jewellery, and she was the Breguet’s effective ambassador for ladies’ jewellery watches. The white gold or rose gold Rêve de Plume pays a tribute to her with a timepiece decorated with a feather “sculpture”. The motif starts at the gem-set attachment at 6 o’clock and goes on to follow the left side of the bezel. Every part of the feather is set with diamonds, in different shapes and sizes. The feather patterns return on the sides of the jewellery watch in fine engraving.
Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon
Being one of the most challenging to make you think twice before creating a minute repeater. The complication audibly signs the hours and often minutes at the press of a button. There are different repeaters, but the one chiming time down to the minute, require three different sounds to distinguish hours, quarters, and minutes. To sound well, the materials have to be well selected and even the shape of the case is important for a nice and clear sound. For mechanical efficiency, all components have to be perfectly finished and assembled.
Breguet, who has created many chiming watches in the past, took this time a completely different approach. First, they selected the sound to reproduce by the timepiece, so they “browsed through” few thousand sounds and categorized them according to psychoacoustic criteria. Once the desired tone was chosen the mechanism was to design.
The gong springs have been entirely reworked and attached to the bezel to favour the transmission of vibrations. A radiating bezel was screwed to the case-band with three pillars allowing the bezel and glass to vibrate freely, which improved the sound emission. The hammers of the watch strike vertically from the movement towards the bezel. This solution helps to transform the mechanical vibrations into sound waves efficiently. The case and the gong are from rose gold or white gold, the base-plate and bridges of the movement are titanium, all supporting the beauty of the sound.
Tradition Chronographe Indépendant
Although it appeared in the Tradition collection of Breguet, the chronograph 7077 mechanism is far from traditional – especially the way the chronograph is energized. The function has a gear train completely separate from that of the hours and minutes functions. To save space the chronograph does not have a barrel, but has a clever blade spring, which gets tension by pressing the reset-to-zero pusher. It means that you actually borrow energy for the elapsed time measurement in the moment you reset the chronograph. The blade spring’s energy is released by a 5Hz balance wheel in 20 minutes, which is sufficient for a higher precision 20 minutes chronograph. It is displayed by the central second hand and the little at scale at 10 o’clock.
The other gear train which is responsible for the hours and minutes functions can manage a power reserve of 50 hours – the remainder of which is shown opposite the chrono minutes. It has a 3Hz balance frequency.
The brand puts great emphasis on symmetry in the series. In order to increase the balance frequency in the chronograph you either reduce its diameter or the inertia. Keeping the symmetry in the two balance wheels, Breguet decreased the latter by using titanium for the high-frequency wheel. It is also flanked and a cam controlled by the chronograph pusher releases it or holds it firmly when the stop is pressed.
Photo credits: Breguet, Loupiosity.com.
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