Breguet remain one of the most reputable and esteemed watchmaking companies and their timepieces feature high on the wish lists of enthusiasts and collectors alike. Despite receiving protective shelter beneath the Swatch umbrella, Breguet has been largely left alone to get on with the business of creating fine timepieces and acclaimed Manufacture movements evolving and developing at its own pace.
For BaselWorld 2014, Breguet fans should not expect too many fireworks, rather more of the brand’s traditional heritage, injected with just a little understated ardour in the form of high-tech watchmaking materials and innovation.
We first saw the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique at last year’s Basel fair and this year a platinum case edition will be added to the collection. This timepiece in particular is a watch which, although conservative in appearance packs quite a punch with regard to innovation. Inside the 42mm case, the Breguet Cal. 581DR beats at an exceptionally high frequency for a tourbillon movement – 4Hz and features an escapement and balance spring which have both been constructed using silicon. Despite its self-winding capabilities, the movement measures just 3mm high, making it the thinnest self-winding tourbillon out there thanks to clever placement of the rotor on the periphery of the movement.
The ability to create a Perpetual Calendar timepiece is still considered to be a fine horological feather in the cap for any Manufacture, but for the wearer its wealth of indications can prove to be perplexing. The brief for the Master Watchmakers at Breguet this year was to bring dial-side clarity to their collection and this year the Classique Tourbillon Quantième Perpétuel 3797 brings the hours and minutes chapter to the foreground so it takes prominence allowing for clearer time reading.
2013 has been described as a breakthrough year for women’s watch collections, but in this genre Breguet were already ahead of their peers having had the luxury of an iconic well-heeled client in the form of Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples. Historically Breguet have always paid attention to the specific needs of their female customers, never taking the much easier – and economical – route of the “pinkification” and downsizing of their men’s collections to suit a smaller wrist.
This year the gem-setters at Breguet will be busy with a Haute Joaillerie Reine de Naples model with which to showcase their skills. This new edition will feature 131 baguette diamonds on the caseband alone, with more sparkle forming a backdrop on the dial for the twin chapter rings which interlock forming the fortuitous number 8, a signature feature of the collection. Other new ladies pieces which will be unveiled include the Classique Dame 9068 featuring an uncluttered engine-turned dial, the Reine de Naples “Princesse” 8968 which takes inspiration from the first wristwatch presented by Abraham-Louis Breguet to Caroline Murat and the Les Volants de la Reine, styled to represent the costumes worn by the ladies in the Queen’s Court.
So – expect more of the same at Breguet at this year’s Basel Fair. More meticulous attention to detail, more loupe-worthy engine-turning and more innovation hidden within exquisitely hand-finished cases and surely there would be an uproar if this was not the case? This is Breguet after all.