Breguet Baselworld 2015 preview: Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097

b42015 is an important anniversary year – 240 years from the foundation of the company in Paris, 1775 – and so there will be some important pieces shown at Baselworld in March 2015. They have given us a quick look at one watch, the Breguet Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097, which makes timekeeping a spectacular, theatrical, perhaps even cinematographic performance. It is an updated version of the Tradition 7027.

At first glance, the watch reminds you of an old cinema projector, with the large balance-wheel on the right mirrored by another large wheel of the gear train on the left. The dial for hours and minutes is relatively small, at the top, with a retrograde seconds hand on the left. It’s not so much skeletonized, but rather just open to view, revealing the flow of power from the central barrel, to the gear train and across to the balance, a lovely composition of microengineering in a restrained palette of greys formed by the wide range of metal finishes and guilloché patterns, with colour highlights offered by the magenta coloured jewels and the blued hands. When you have this watch under your left-hand shirt sleeve, it is the balance wheel that you see first, oscillating at a relatively slow rate of 21,600 bph, or 3 Hertz.

A Breguet "tact" watch, about 1799, image courtesy of Musée du Louvre

A Breguet “tact” watch, about 1799, image courtesy of Musée du Louvre

The Breguet 7027 Tradition was first released in 2005 and it was the first of the brand’s watches to display the movement on the dial side of the mainplate. A GMT version was presented in 2012. The idea of a small decentred dial placed on a large case goes back a long way, to the “tact” watch introduced by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1799, “tact” referring to touch (as in tactile) because in addition to a small dial with minute and hour hand, it had a stud rotating on the outside of the case, whose position could be felt with the fingers and used to tell the time by touch alone. In other words, a watch that could be used by the blind, but also by anyone in the dark.

In the new model, the retrograde seconds indicator is in the position occupied by the power reserve indicator in the original 7027. In the 7097 the power reserve indicator is probably visible through the sapphire caseback. The Calibre 505SR1 movement provides 50 hours power reserve, and it incorporates the latest technology, with silicon pallets and silicon Breguet overcoil balance. The 40-mm case in white gold has welded lugs holding a leather strap, and the characteristic fluted caseband. The complete reference number is 7097BB/G1/9WU; a version in pink gold is available, 7097BR/G1/9WU. The version in white gold costs €30,000, or 32,700 Swiss francs; the version in pink gold costs 31,900 Swiss francs. More information from http://www.breguet.com/

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Below, detail of the retrograde seconds display, and the dial, individually numbered and signed Breguet as per brand tradition. The movement is also numbered and signed.

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Below, another detail, showing the barrel at the centre of the watch, the wheels of the gear train from left to right, the large balance wheel (probably about 10 mm in diameter), and the pare-chute shock protection system above the balance:

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