Most already know the story of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s ascension to watchmaking royalty whilst delivering timepieces to actual royalty. Somewhat less told is Breguet’s delivery of flyback chronographs to the French air force (the foundation for the current Type XX, XXI & XXII collections) or his work with marine chronometers for their naval forces. The marine chronometers are of particular importance as they would be relied upon in harsh conditions to keep near perfect timing. Released in the early 1990’s, the current Marine family from Breguet bear the traits of their forefathers but with lovely modern twists.
The entry level model, if it can be described as such, for this family is the automatic version with oversized date at 6 o’clock. The 39mm steel case is perhaps not quite as large as its peers but offers a nice solid case fit for purpose with a sapphire glass caseback to showcase Breguet’s well finished automatic movement. THe guilloche dials carry an evocative but subtle pattern while an oversize date window at 6 o’clock marries pretty with practical. All the Marine family enjoy the tubular finish to the side of the case. It is this extra detail that Breguet originally innovated moving a new technology at the time from the realm of offering functionality to also being a piece of art in itself. The steel model on rubber strap begins at £11,100.00 and is also offered in gold.
Next up in the collection is perhaps the most popular too; the Marine Chronograph. Within the last two years, the exact layout of the chronograph totalisers has become more asymmetric but the overall balance of the watch is not affected. The quality and feel of the flyback chronograph is as one would expect from a brand like Breguet and the case is specifically made to feel weighty so the owner can feel the substance. One of my personal favourite elements within this family is the rubber strap. Too often, the designers place so much emphasis on the case and dial, the straps become an afterthought, especially when rubber is concerned.
Breguet have chosen to pattern the rubber strap giving it a depth and character all of its own. Add that to a very very solid gold folding clasp, also exquisitely finished…one has a very well thought out high end sports watch at a very competitive price point given who we would consider to be Breguet’s competition. This particular version retails at £22,500.00 but is also available in White Gold & now Platinum too. Each of the Marine Chronograph models carries a spare alligator strap as standard.
The latest addition in terms of complication to the Marine collection is the Dual Time model. Fulfilled in Rose Gold or steel as shown here, the sub dial at 6 o’clock acts as either a second timezone or home time if you prefer with the user able to manipulate the main hour hand alone. The sub dial at 2 o’clock is a 24 hour counter confirming whether it is AM or PM on your second time whichever way you choose to set it up. At 42mm, the case is larger in width & depth than the previous two models but does not necessarily feel oversized. The one area I cannot praise highly enough is the dial. As one would expect from Breguet, the dial is finished to level not even attempted by most brands but in this case, even the 24 hour register has been detailed not just differently to the main dial but in two formats to help the reader assess day & night easily! a quite frankly astound tool watch for the seasoned traveller. £16,900.00 in steel…
The Marine Royale is a strange fit in what is a sporty but ultimately elegant family of watches. At 46mm, it is a big, big watch but also being only delivered in precious metal, it is also a substantial timepiece. The unidirectional bezel is quite rugged and the various pushers only add to the overall heavy weight impression! The additional complication here is a mechanical & waterproof alarm feature that like the flagship Reveil du tsar model, can be turned on & off via the large button at 8 o’clock. The screw down crowns at 2 & 4 o’clock manage the date, time & setting the alarm hand. Though the actual watch is automatic, the alarm is powered by a hand wound barrel whose power reserve is indicated on the dial at 11 o’clock. Now…given how many crowns, buttons & indicators are involved, it still remain a reasonably clean & very legible timepiece.
The mixture of brushed & polished edges have been carefully devised while the alarm gives a solid sonorous sound whilst also reverberating throughout the case so the user can feel the buzz underwater if required. I personally feel this model sits a little ill at ease with the rest of the collection, which are fundamentally quite elegant in size, even the fully gem set models. That said, as a modern sports model…the size is totally in keeping with the trend for larger watches, and Breguet’s level of finishing speaks for itself as well as the very cool rubber strap. The Marine Royale in Rose Gold retails at £33,100.00 but is also available in White Gold.
Finally, what Breguet collection would be complete without his eponymous Tourbillon! When I began working with Breguet, this was definitely my grail watch from this brand. Tourbillon’s had yet to become the mainstream complication that they are now, especially within a sports medium. This model is simply beautiful…42mm in diameter with a suspended Tourbillon carriage at 12 o’clock. The detailing to the case is as I have described above but out of all the Marine family, this is by far my favourite as seeing the Tourbillon oscillating away is a very emotive experience. Retailing at £113,800.00 in Rose Gold, it is not cheap by any means but should you choose to purchase a model of this nature, you would definitely not be disappointed by the Breguet Marine Tourbillon Chronograph.
New Cavendish Jewellers has been an official partner for Breguet for over a decade now, please feel free to visit our Boutique or contact us for further details.