Breguet’s iconic Tradition collection seeks to marry its illustrious past with a vision of the future.
Past and future, the established and the avant-garde, all come together in Breguet’s Tradition collection, which was first launched in 2005 with the 7027 model. It was the first contemporary timepiece to showcase the mechanisms of the movement on top of the baseplate. Its daring design, which has been much imitated since, featured a transparent dial face that integrated all the complications in a trim, aesthetically sweeping composition.
The Tradition line was inspired by the legendary souscription watches that the brand’s founder Abraham-Louis Breguet launched in 1796. What stood out in this large diameter pocket watch was its single hand, that swept across an enamel dial. It was powered by a simple movement that could be produced in large numbers. The watches were sold using a subscription model, where a quarter of the price had to put down by the buyer on order, while the rest of the money was paid on delivery. The advance payment was used to purchase the necessary components for the series production of the watches. The relatively affordable price for that era made the watch a big hit. Around 700 were produced, a big number in those days.
Breguet also used the movement of the `Subscription’ watches for his tact watches, launched three years later. Distinguished by an arrow on the outside of the case that reproduces the position of the hours hand and by 12 raised markers, tact watches offered the possibility of reading time by touch. Time was also read on a traditional dial bearing two hands. The smaller and in some instances offset dials were the models for some of the contemporary Tradition models. Over the years, the Tradition line has been progressively enriched with complications, such as a power-reserve indicator, tourbillon, fusée and chain transmission, GMT function and retrograde small seconds, alongside the use of ultra-modern materials such as silicon and titanium. From the historical N°960, 1009 and 1576 watches to Tradition Dame Reference 7038 in rose gold unveiled at Baselworld 2017, this collection is a testimony to Breguet’s ability to combine innovation and tradition seamlessly.
The first watch in the Tradition line returns in a two-colour version. Its now-celebrated caliber 507DR can be seen on either side of the mainplate, though mostly on the front. The anthracite grey treatment of the movement parts help emphasize its bridges and bars, in particular the escapement’s, fitted with its celebrated old-style `parechute’ in hand-beveled steel. This emblematic feature of the Tradition collection protects the balance staff from shocks. It is the forbear of all the shock-protection devices in use today, including the Incabloc system. The visual contrasts between the anthracite movement and the pink gold case add to the watch’s crisp, contemporary look, not least the time of day displayed on a lustrous black dial off-centered at 12 o’clock. The watch, in a 37 mm case, is available in pink gold with pink gold mainplate, bridges and bars or in a white gold case fitted with the new anthracite movement. It
has a 50-hour power reserve, and is individually numbered and signed BREGUET.
Three new versions of this model, with a 40 mm-diameter case, were introduced a few years go. One features a 18K red gold case and a hand-wound 507DR calibre with red gold-plated finish, while the other two come in a 18K white gold or red gold case housing the hand-wound movement with a matte grey NAC finish. This type of surface treatment deposits a charcoal-grey alloy of precious metals from the platinum family by electroplating. Each of these three versions, with their gold hand-engraved black dial, highlight in their own way – whether ultra-modern or more traditional – the technical architecture of this masterpiece of micromechanics. The arrangement on both sides of the central plate shows off almost all of the components – bridges, gears and escapement with the famous `old fashioned’ pare-chute shock absorber in hand-bevelled steel. It is individually numbered and signed BREGUET, with a 50- hour power reserve.
This watch represents the first time-zone model in the Tradition collection. Its stylistic elegance is commensurate with its ease of operation; a button on the caseband at 10 o’clock quickly sets the time-zone, which can be seen on an off-centre dial at 12 o’clock. A second engine-turned dial at 8 o’clock shows the reference time, with its day/night indicator, alternating between silver and black at 10 o’clock. Despite the additional functions, the watch remains true to the identity of the collection with its anthracite-coloured movement highlighting the balance-wheel at 4 o’clock. The manually wound movement with a power reserve of 50 hours is fitted into a 40 mm diameter case in rose or white gold. As in the first Tradition model,
the power-reserve indicator can be seen at the back of the watch through the sapphire-crystal caseback, which also reveals a part of the movement that is generally hidden. Other regular features include the delicately fluted caseband, the Breguet hands with a moon cut into their tips, welded lugs and an engineturned dial. It is individually numbered and signed BREGUET.
The spectacular part of this grand complication watch is its fusée tourbillion mechanism, which enhances time keeping accuracy beyond normal complicated watches.
This is a rare watch, where the chronograph mechanism has been completely delinked from the timekeeping mechanism, via two independent gear trains. This ensures that time keeping through the hour and minute hands remains unaffected when the chronograph is used for measuring elapsed time, a problem that traditional chronographs face. Individually numbered and signed BREGUET.
This model gets its name from the retrograde seconds hand at 10 o’clock, which supplements the hours and minutes shown by Breguet-style open-tipped hands in blued steel. The complication can be seen with the help of a circular-brushed semicircle that also makes the other indications easy to read. To maintain the symmetry, the pare-chute is located at 4 o’clock. The 40mm case in white gold ouses a selfwinding movement with an inverted in-line lever escapement with silicon pallets and a silicon Breguet overcoil balance spring, that
ensure exceptional stability of rate. The dial is in 18k gold, silvered and engine-turned by hand, off-centered at 12 o’clock. Each piece is
individually numbered and signed BREGUET. Also available in 18K rose gold, with a 50- hour power reserve.
With this model, Breguet has succeeded in feminising the Tradition collection. Clearly visible in the front and centre of the watch, the barrel is decorated with a rosette motif and overlapped at 12 o’clock by a dainty offset dial in natural white mother-of-pearl, finely adorned with hand-crafted engine-turned `Clous de Paris’ hobnailing. Although in full view, the main movement gear trains, as well as the bridges bearing them, remain sufficiently discreet to ensure smooth and instant reading of the hours and minutes, pointed to by rose gold open-tipped Breguet hands. The sandblasted mainplate and bridges are rhodium-plated to create a pleasing contrast with the 37 mm, 18k rose gold case. The bezel is adorned with 68 brilliant-cut diamonds, while a watch jewel sets the perfect finishing touch to the crown. The magnificent craftsmanship lavished on this model is also visible through the back on the gold oscillating weight, graced with the same motif as the barrel. The self-winding movement features a lever escapement with silicon horns and a Breguet balance spring also made of silicon. Numbered and signed BREGUET. 50 hour power reserve.