As a brand, Breguet’s history tells like an exciting novel, with stories of stolen watches that resurface at inopportune moments to new and exciting world firsts that revolutionised the watch industry. Watch enthusiasts naturally place reverence to the name, Abraham Louis Breguet, but in modern times of clever marketing, it is often forgotten that alongside Cartier, Breguet laid the blueprint for watchmaking to become an industry in its own right. Breguet began his own business in 1775 and despite individual orders to celebrated historical figures, consistent business began with the Souscription collection.
Breguet is often credited with creating the first wristwatch in the Reine de Naples model made especially for Caroline, the then Queen of Naples and sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. With pocket watches the norm, function was coveted over form with the focus on necessity over any aesthetic ideas. Again, here is another area where Breguet must be credited with changing the perspective of the industry by first changing the perspective of the purveyor. When an idea in any field catches interest, others tend to quickly become aware of the popularity and often imitate; here is no different.
The Souscription pocket watches gained their name from the fact these creations often took months to create by hand so as is the norm today, the client would pay a deposit to secure the order and essentially subscribe to owning the pocket watch. The Souscription 1797 was the first pocket watch from Breguet to feature an open faced style showcasing the workings of the mechanical movement on the front. Today, circuitry and artificial intelligence govern so many areas of our lives that we in turn find great mysticism in the arts like watchmaking and other artisan mediums. At that time, you only had the mechanical option, which without the aid of computers was scientific, painstaking and a genuine labour of love. Therefore, to actually see the beauty of what was created by hand was testament to the watchmakers skill and also designed to engage the owner.
Under the banner of The Swatch Group, the mid 2000’s saw not just reinvestment into the brand from a commercial standpoint but also a historical one as collections such as the Marine family were updated. Furthermore, this led to a reinterpretation of the Souscription, namely in the Tradition collection. Not just a one off homage piece, the Tradition series has become one of the most popular lines Breguet offer providing also the canvas for some of their most break taking innovations and complications.
As more brands are keen to show off their skill in creating and finishing movements, the popularity of skeletonised watches has grown. Virtually every important company from Audemars Piguet to Vacheron Constantin have a model in their collection showcasing the heart and workings of these little mechanical marvels. However, Breguet was one of the first, if not the first to start this type of design. The current Tradition models are offered explicitly in precious metals in varying sizes. The first simplest models were hand wound and echoing the design of their predecessor. The acclaim drawn by the collection led to an automatic variant and then smaller complications. Initially contrasting colours were added to the dial and base plate to modernise the collection but then small complications like a retrograde seconds and even a second timezone sub dial were offered as one would expect from Breguet.
However, the Grand Complications in the Tourbillon and Minute Repeater continued Breguet’s legacy of innovation. The Tourbillon carried a fusee chain transmission that basically evens out the power transmitted by the hand wound movement correcting any errors so the Tourbillon will engage at its optimal ability. The Minute Repeater that chimes the time using a set of mechanical gongs, originally also invented by Breguet goes a step further in this version. Breguet execute their repeater in an entirely different way. Architecturally miles ahead of the typical visual expected from such a complication, the hammers that chime the sound are attached to the case and glass building on the innovation of the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Minute Repeater (the first to deduce that the sapphire glass was the most resonant part of the case). Breguet’s unique movement has created a reduction in buffering the hammers and in turn offers as loud a sound as possible. The fact all of these quite mind boggling mechanical elements are visible only adds to the allure of this amazing creation.
The most recent additions to the family are the ladies model, as pictured, in both 18ct White and Rose Gold utilising the same layout as its siblings with an engraved flower motif and a Diamond set bezel for femininity. These watches are a great example of why, though revisiting the past, Breguet is once again at the forefront of mechanical watchmaking. The Tradition is the perfect palette for balancing classic design with the demands of a modern audience delivering in an exquisitely finished manner by a long standing marque. Other brands can offer fantastic watches in similarly styles but none can offer the history that has birthed these spectacular pieces of art.
New Cavendish Jewellers is an official agent for Breguet, we welcome you to discover the Tradition collection and the other Breguet models in-store.