Angus Davies reviews the Breguet La Tradition Ref 7057BB/11/9W6, a watch which can trace its lineage back to Abraham Louis Breguet and the business he established in 1775.
“Traditionally innovative” may sound like a paradox, however, in terms of Breguet it is true. Abraham Louis Breguet established his business in Paris in 1775 and to this day must be regarded as the most innovative horologer of all time.
This may sound like a bold statement to those readers who are unfamiliar with the many innovations to originate from Breguet. However, consider some of the inventions and terms which now have become part of horological parlance;
Breguet Hands (1783)
Breguet Arabic Numerals (1790 in current form)
Breguet Balance Spring with Overcoil (1795)
Pare-chute (first shock absorber device invented in 1790)
Guilloché dials (first hand turned dials appeared in 1786)
Subscription watch (first single handed watch in 1796)
Constant Force Escapement (1798)
Development of First Wristwatch (commenced 1810)
Off Centre Hour ring (1812)
Invention of the observation chronometer, a forerunner of today’s chronographs (1820)
To appreciate haute horology you must start with Breguet. Breguet has a tradition of being innovative and this has continued in recent times;
Wristwatch with a perpetual equation of time was invented and a patent applied for (1991)
Straight-line perpetual calendar watch movement with instant year-jump and patent applied for (1997)
Smallest self-winding chronograph movement in the world (1998)
In 2005, Breguet introduced the “Tradition Line”: a shock-protection device for balance pivot (Tradition line); three patents for the new Breguet detent escapement; centrifugal strike governor (Grand Strike); striking piece with surprise-piece lifting lever (Grand Strike).
The innovation never ceases.
Initially the watch was launched with a smaller 37mm case diameter than the model which has caught my gaze, the 40mm diameter, Reference 7057BB/11/9W6.
I would describe myself as a gentleman of ample proportions and always have a rule that I should never wear a watch of less than 40mm in diameter. This is not to say I don’t admire smaller case sizes, they look perfect on smaller, more svelte physiques than mine.
A watch with such delicate features looks exquisite with a 40mm case.
What makes this special?
“What makes this special?” I would retort with “where do I start?”
18 carat white gold provides an understated beauty evident to all.
The off-centre dial is a feature of Breguet watches from yesteryear. Many of the parts have received a sand-blasted finish applied by hand. Screws and hands are blued.
The Breguet DNA is evident wherever you look, Breguet hands, engine turned dial, the “B” branded crown, caseband fluting and the “secret signature” shared between Breguet and its observant customer.
Lugs are typical of Breguet not with spring bars but spring pins which afford greater security for the union between strap and case.
A “single number” depicted after the Breguet name on the dial, provides an additional visible sign of the provenance.
The engraver is another Artisan who makes their presence felt with this model. Look at the guilloché. At Breguet several patterns can be applied to the dial of a watch. La Tradition is no exception.
The pattern to the centre of the dial is “Clou de Paris”. Roman numerals have been engraved on the hour circle which features “Satiné circulaire”. “Saute piqué” is perfectly executed on the minute circle.
Close examination of the off-centre dial and another symbol of Breguet are the words which appear at 6 o’clock; “SWISS GUILLOCHE MAIN” (no accent appears towards the end of the capitalized word guilloché).
A shock absorber device invented by Breguet in 1790 and referred to as a pare-chute is visible through the sapphire crystal at 4 o’clock. However, typical of Breguet, the attention to detail is exemplary, hence it is blued to champion the function that has led to the fantastic form.
A beautiful view
The power reserve is visible from both the front of the watch but also the reverse via the sapphire crystal which affords a view more beautiful than many a vista painted by a Great Master. Numerous rubies feature on the movement, evidenced both front and rear. These reside next to hand chamfered parts which spangle and shine.
It may be traditional, but its beauty will not date nor lose relevance with the passing of time. The allure of the true Artisan will never fade or diminish.
I would dearly love to own this watch as it offers the informed wearer a holistic horological resumé that can be read each day with a resultant inner warmth bestowed on its keeper.
Model: Breguet La Tradition
Case: 18 carat white gold. 40 mm diameter. 11.65 mm height. Sapphire crystal to both front and rear.
Movement: Calibre 507 DR. Hand wound movement. 34 Jewels. Frequency 21,600 vph (3hz). Free sprung balance. Swiss straight line lever escapement. Breguet balance spring. Power reserve 50 hours.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.