One of the interesting new introductions during SIHH 2014 must be the Breva Genie 02, the world’s first wristwatch with a mechanical altimeter. Breva is a young brand, founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Vincent Dupontreué. Only 36 years of age, he has a impressive track record as an entrepreneur and salesman.
In 2010, after having sold his fashion company, the idea came up to create a new high-end Swiss watch brand. A weekend at Lake Como gave more input on the positioning: the name (La Breva is the name of a warm wind which provides the mild micro-climate around the Lake Como area) was born, as was the idea that the forthcoming watch should be a mechanical timepiece that could forecast the weather. Together with watchmaker Jean-Francois Mojon the development was started, resulting in the Breva brand-launch at Baselworld 2013.
In 2014, both the Genie 01 and Genie 02 have seen the light, and from now on mountain climbers will have their dedicated timepiece, placing them finally in line with pilots, divers and sailors. The Genie 01 is the first mechanical wristwatch displaying time, altitude, weather forecasting barometric pressure and power reserve. The Breva Genie 02, introduced this year, focuses on the mechanical altimeter which, paradoxically, doesn’t measure altitude at all: it measures the air pressure. An air pressure altimeter is in fact a barometer developed specifically to display altitude rather than barometric pressure. Pressure in the earth’s atmosphere is a result of the weight of the air pulled down by gravity. The higher the altitude, the less atmosphere above so less pressure exerted.
The Breva Genie 02 has an proprietary movement, fully in-house developend by Jean-Francois Mojon. Within the 44,7 mm titanium case, the movement is cleary visible, within the altimeter prominently placed at 2 o’clock. Underneath are two aneroid capsules. These capsules, made from a special non-magnetic memory-metal (which Breva has patented) register air pressure in order to read the altitudes. This is different from the Genie 01, where barometric pressure was used.
A lever on top of the capsules, clearly visible at 4 o’clock, transmits the combined height of the capsules to altimeter indicators through a complex and ingenius process of gears and racks. Arcing around the top of the dial, from 10 to 1, an altimeter display to 5,000 meters is visible.
While the process is completely mechanical, Breva claims that using the altitude meter for navigation in the mountains, in combination with a topographic map is more accurate than using a GPS receiver. One can imagine that the GPS signal is not always available within deep canyons and cliffs.
The functions of the Breva Genie 02 are operated with three crowns: a two-position crown at 9 o’clock winds the movement and operates time, a crown at 2 o’clock rotates and operates the altitude meters, and a screw down crown at 4 o’clock seals air in and out of the movement. The air is filtered from moisture and humidity through an osmotic membrane before it enters the movement. When the valve is locked, a “sealed” sign is visible on the dial.
It is a pleasure to see much of the uniqueness of the watch visible and working while wearing. The backside shows even more of the complexity of the 415-component movement, together with the names of the ski-resorts where this watch will most likely show up: Aspen, Vail, Gstaad, St Moritz, Courchevel and the likes.
The Breva Genie 02 is a product of a clear vision and focus: to facilitate people in specific activities within mountains and open air. With the quality of the product and the choices made in developing a mechanical altimeter, the Genie 02 will appeal to a much larger group of passionate wristwatch enthousiasts. Unfortunately, only 55 of them will be able to wear the this timepiece priced at $132,000.
Breva Genie 02 Terre – Technical Specifications
- Hours, minutes, small seconds,
- Large-scale altitude indicator, precision-scale altitude indicator,
- Power reserve indicator, air pressure valve, equalizer seal indicator, altitude scale adjuster.
- Titanium G5, with altitude calibrated in either meters or feet.
- Dimensions: 44.7 mm x 15.6 mm
- Number of components: 69
- Water resistance: 30m
- Grained and galvanically-treated Nickel silver,
- indexes and numbers in three-dimensional Super-LumiNova
- Proprietary movement developed exclusively for Breva by Jean-François Mojon/Chronode
- Diameter: 36 mm
- Number of components: 415
- Number of jewels: 45
- Balance frequency: 3 Hz
- Dual aneroid capsules specifically developed to derive altitude from air pressure
- Power reserve: 65 hours
Strap and Buckle: Natural rubber strap with titanium tang buckle.
More resources about the Breva Genie 02 available on www.breva-watch.com.