By Harlan Chapman-Green

Breguet always comes up with something exciting for us at Baselworld, a set of watches which raise eyebrows and cause a reaction within the crowd. Unfortunately, this year it isn’t always the reaction Breguet wanted. There have been some whispers going around for a while now that the historic manufacture was working on a new design language for one of its modern icons, the Marine collection.

Let’s start by saying that this is by far the biggest change in the collection since it was first launched. Gone are the sunburst guilloche dials and chapter rings reminiscent of Abraham Louis Breguet’s watches. So too is the nautilus-shaped rotor on the movement around the back, even the strap has been changed, but was it worth it?

I’m unsure about what to feel with this new collection, there have been some issues addressed, but others have been created. For example, I’m not in love with the three-handed watches, especially the reference 5517TI which lacks nearly any distinguishing features save the lumed Breguet hands which have carried over from the Equation Marchante, they look amazing on this watch. The Roman numerals on the dial look good and have been given a touch of lume, but the classic ‘big date’ has also been shafted, making way for a single date window at 9 O’clock which appears to have been lifted from an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. At least the blue dial perks things up with the same wave engraving seen on the Equation Marchante, but this only comes in precious metal. The case is 40mm for the three-hander

If you want to make things a little more complicated then you can have a chronograph Marine ref 5527 instead. Just like the three-handed watch, the chronograph collection only offers a slate grey dial with sunburst guilloche in titanium, if you want one of the two colour options, blue with white gold or a dazzling rose gold with a silvery white dial, you can expect to pay premium bucks for them. They’ve also taken a leaf out of the design from the Type XX, where none of the subdials look exactly alike, most noticeably is that they are very different in size. Also, you’ll find the central minute totaliser hand from the old Marine chronograph has been moved to a subdial, which in a way is beneficial as it means the dial looks less like a Type XXI, especially with the date squeezed in at half past four. The case size on the chronograph model is 42.3mm.

Stepping it up even further is an alarm model, reference 5547, something which was already in the Marine collection, but has also received the update. This model is a lot simpler than the Marine Royale model that went before, thanks in part to a subdial which contains a second timezone, rather than a GMT hand layered under three other hands set on a busy guilloche dial. This watch is also a full 5mm smaller in diameter, but loses the textured bezel as well.

I’m not being unfairly harsh on Breguet, most people who know me know I swoon over their watches like nobody’s business, but I’m just not sure with this new collection. While I lament the loss of the solid gold guilloche rotor on the new La Marine collection, the replacement is still nautical themed and offers a better view of the movement underneath. No news has come through yet on whether this is an F.Piguet movement base like before, though. What’s the most perplexing is the offering of only one colour in titanium, the Marine collection was expensive before in stainless steel, so I worry that Breguet will price itself out of the market. You need to pay for the extra attention to detail you get with a gold case, otherwise, you’ve got something which seems a little too like the Blancpain Fifty Fathom Bathyscaphe, which wasn’t interesting to me, to begin with. Nevertheless, I look forward to going hands-on with this collection, where my thoughts will undoubtedly change. For more info, visit Breguet online.