Founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the company will reach its 240th anniversary next year. Perhaps this is why this year, 2014, there were not many new products by the brand at Baselworld. They’re saving the fireworks for 2015. I’ve always found it hard to imagine how a watch company can prepare for an anniversary, considering that the development of a new movement usually takes a couple of years, or even more, but they always succeed magnificently, with the same precision as Swiss trains.
Breguet blends its attachment to its roots in classical watch design and production with state-of-the-art research, such as the remarkable advances in anti-magnetic watch construction developed by companies which, like Breguet itself, are now part of the Swatch group. The same technology was used in the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss, so-called because it is unaffected even by a magnetic field reaching an intensity of 15,000 Gauss. Developed by ETA, Asulab and Nivarox FAR, the technology is based on the use of non-ferromagnetic materials in the movement, and in the Breguet Extra-Plat Automatique 5377 , there is a silicon balance spring, and an escapement in silicon and non-magnetic steel. The construction of the calibre 581DR movement is such that even with the tourbillon, which absorbs far more energy than a normal balance, and a tourbillon that runs at the unusually high frequency of 4 Hertz, the Extra-Plat Automatique 5377 has a power reserve of 90 hours. This is achieved in part by the use of a barrel mounted on roller bearings.
Like the Bulgari Finissimo, the Extra-Plat Automatique 5377 is a record-breaker, with a movement 3 mm thick and a case 7 mm thick. But differently to the hand-wound Bulgari Finissimo, the Breguet 5377 is an automatic, the thinnest self-winding tourbillon in the world. To help reduce thickness, Breguet developed a peripheral rotor in platinum, conceptually similar to that in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon.
The 5377 had already been presented at the 2013 Baselworld show, and this year’s version is new for the case material, platinum. The watch has a case 42 mm in diameter, and a dial with four different types of hand-worked finish: clou de Paris on the hour and minutes chapter ring, engine-turned strait chevrons on the power reserve indicator at 8 o’clock, and yet other finishes around the edges of the various dial segments. A blue sapphire is set into the tourbillon bridge, coordinating with the blued open-tipped Breguet hands. The layout of the dial is brilliantly off-centred, and the whole arrangement is so well-balanced that you don’t really notice the asymmetry. The caseband has the trademark Breguet fluting. As usual for Breguet watches, the case and movement of each piece is individually numbered. The same piece is also available in rose gold. Price is about $164,000 for the platinum version, $149,000 for the version in rose gold.