Some watches are made purely to attract people’s eye with their design, but they suffer from having no internal mechanisms of merit. Others can go too far, producing overly complicated pieces which only appeal to people on Instagram who like-react anything. The Tradition line from Breguet is one of those watches that marries function and form in such a unique way that it becomes iconic. In the same way that one could consider the Duomètre to be Jaeger-LeCoultre’s flagship line of watches, based solely on the merit of the mechanics inside, the Tradition from Breguet could arguably hold the top spot for this most historic of brands.
While the Duomètre seems to be suffering from a case of slow-cancellation, the Tradition line is alive and kicking, and this new model is a beast in a good sense. A formidable set of wheels makes up the lower portion of the dial, along with the balance wheel. These stand out against the beautifully guilloché’d plate which divides the front half of the watch with the back. Unlike most timepieces, the Breguet splits the movement over two planes, with the majority of the interesting stuff happening on view to the wearer. At the same time, the back holds the equally mesmerising automatic rotor which I’ll get to in a bit.
At the very centre of the dial is the mainspring barrel, which provides a base to build the layers of the dial on. To tell the time, Breguet has provided a smaller display with the classic Breguet hands and a healthy amount of guilloché. The fact that this part is a deep and rich blue means that this watch a limited-availability piece, and it is. It’s only available through Breguet’s network of boutiques, but there doesn’t seem to be a limit on the amount produced. The dial also features a retrograde seconds hand, which jumps back to zero when it reaches 60 instead of doing a full circle.
Around the back, as I mentioned, is the automatic rotor which appears to be quite unconventional. Appearing as some sort of shovel-head, or quite possibly an axe, it has been inspired by the first automatic movements that Abraham Louis Breguet designed and built. His watches didn’t use a circular rotor like we see today. Instead, they used an arm that would swing back and forth with the motion of the wearer. To get an idea of how it would have looked, check out Moritz Grossmann’s Atum Hamatic watch, after you’ve finished reading this article of course.
Unlike the Breguet’s Perpetuelle pocket watches which used a heavy platinum weight to wind the watch’s movement, the Tradition 7097 uses a solid white gold piece which performs a full 360-degree rotation rather than only moving by a few millimetres like the original.
Breguet was always about function first and form later, but he still focused on the form and produced some incredible watches. This watch looks fantastic with its blue dial and strap. It comes with some unique horological features like a silicon balance spring with a Breguet Overcoil, a unique pare-chute antishock device for the balance wheel and a free-sprung balance wheel to increase the shock resistance even further.
The price isn’t exactly a shock, either, at $36,100 this solid white gold Breguet is a surprisingly attractive option. It’s even 40mm in diameter, to keep the size snobs happy.