Choosing the ideal sound and defining a frequency, just like an architect would draw a house plan and develop the watch best suited to reproduce it. That is the challenge the engineers at Breguet took up. Then, after extensive research, they produced the Breguet Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon 7087 in 2015. This year at Baselworld, visitors will be introduced to an improved version of the piece, where each and every detail – including its sound and performance – has been redefined and optimized.
The watch's melody was composed in the same way the right ingredients are gathered to make a perfume until the ideal fragrance is obtained. For this watch, the engineers used their synthesizers to test hundreds of thousands of frequencies that they classified by category until they came up with the perfect combination. With the objective defined, they had to produce watch components that could achieve said combination. And the brand managed to do so brilliantly. To top it off, they used technical and architectural techniques and, along the way, they filed no less than six patents.
The achievement is not at all surprising for a brand that was a pioneer of the use of gongs in minute repeaters two and a half centuries ago. The brand’s legacy to the whole watchmaking sector is, thus, a technique that is still in use today.
Designed to produce a specific sound, the Breguet Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon 7087 offers many solutions and none short of astonishing. Opposite to convention, the gongs do not surround the caliber but have instead been designed as foils that are directly affixed to the bezel. Said bezel has a higher vibration capacity as it is not affixed to the 44-mm pink gold case but connected via three pillars, which give it more room. The rhodium-plated gold gongs make the most of the bezel and the sapphire to diffuse the sound that is amplified by a small resonance chamber. The hammers are equipped with a new type of shock absorber, which allows for them to strike the gongs vertically, thus optimizing vibration transmission.
The watch is equipped with a magnetic regulator that guarantees a constant rotation speed by playing on the opposition between the magnetic field of the magnets and the electric field produced by the movement.
An additional advantage of the magnetic regulator is that it prevents the component from making mechanical contact, thus making the watch totally silent. The watch’s tourbillon at 6 o’clock is a tribute to the brand’s amazing history.
A new version of the Classique Hora Mundi, first released in 2011, will also be introduced in Basel. As its name hints, it evokes the parchment that could have been found on-board a schooner, or even a caravel, and on which new sea routes were drawn. With a user-friendly design, it combines technical complexity and a simple display. It is equipped with only one set of hour/minute hands that can easily switch time zones thanks to the true "mechanical memory" hidden under the dial, which also helps set the day/night and date indications instantaneously.
Speaking of the date, it is displayed in a large aperture at 12 o'clock in which three numerals are visible; the current date is framed by a dragging disk, which is in fact the tip of a retrograde hand, also hidden under the dial. The 2016 version features a fluted 43-mm case that is one millimetre thinner than the original version. The dial is decorated with a "clou de Paris" motif and it sports two different types of "guilloché", which decorate the 24-hour indicator between 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock. They are very obviously the result of extraordinary work.
Breguet has also expanded its women’s watch range with some (now) iconic models. Several versions of the ovoid "Reine de Naples" – a tribute to the watch Abraham-Louis Breguet delivered to Caroline Murat in 1812 – has been produced since it was launched in 2002. These include complications ranging from striking mechanisms to moon phases. In 2015, the Reine de Naples Princesse Mini collection was introduced with 32-mm and 27-mm watches for slender wrists.
This year it comes in a white gold version with a diamond-set bezel and attachments as well as a mother-of-pearl lavender dial whose indexes are drawn by marquetry. New pieces have also been added to the Tradition, Classique and Haute Joaillerie ranges. Dedicated to prestigious customers who have left a mark on Breguet history – particularly Marie-Antoinette – these pieces will be exhibited across the globe in 2016.