Breguet proves its excellent technical skills once again
Without a shadow of doubt, Breguet has once more succeeded in surprising all enthusiasts of beautiful watchmaking with the introduction in the Tradition collection of a superb chronograph and an innovating as well as original minute repeater.
Abraham-Louis Breguet never stopped surprising his peers in life. Even though his multiple technical inventions that were each more astonishing than the last granted him widespread renown in his profession, the brilliant watchmaker continued his relentless quest for precision. This philosophy has had a permanent effect on Breguet as its engineers, developers and watchmakers are today still exploring cutting-edge technical fields under the supervision of Marc A Hayek. Hence, they have developed a completely exclusive chronograph for the Tradition collection. The superb piece of work is called “Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077” and it took its producers three and a half years of hard work to complete it.
Before going into detail, it is worth being reminded that a chronograph is a complication of its own that records short time lapses it communicates immediately. The biggest mechanical challenge, however, lies in its production. Indeed, engaging the chronograph may potentially disrupt the good functioning of the main geartrains. In order to avoid this, Breguet has equipped its new model with two totally independent geartrains. The first one is devoted to measuring hours and minutes, its balance beats to 3 hertz and it sports a 50-hour power reserve. The second geartrain is linked to the chronograph and is equipped with a 5-hertz frequency that guarantees better reading precision. To top it off, 5 hertz means a 10th of a second, noblesse oblige.
Breguet’s research on high frequencies has indeed proved that the higher the level of oscillations, the better functioning regularity as eventual disruptions are more quickly corrected. And since the same barrel is used for both geartrains, the one with a 5-hertz frequency can function for 20 minutes without winding, which enables a 0.04 seconds setting on the 20 minutes. This is certainly a brilliant solution but it brought big changes to the chronograph.
Changing the chronograph
In this unusual piece of work, Breguet has deliberately chosen to forgo the column wheel that is generally added in quality chronographs. The brand’s researchers have chosen a shuttle that allows movement from one geartrain to another instead. Hence, given that the two geartrains have no influence on one another, the main movement is not disturbed when the chronograph function is engaged. The use of a second geartrain normally also entails the use of a second barrel to supply the necessary energy to the chronograph function. Nevertheless, this solution requires more space and the wearer has to wind the barrels of both the main movement and the chronograph.
A new kind of spring is used in the “Tradition Chronographe Indépendant”. The wearer supplies the required amount of energy to make the chronograph function when the chronograph is reset to zero. Said energy is kept in the strip-spring that works in deflection. The system enables the wearer to engage the chronograph function immediately without having to worry about the remaining energy since the latter will always be available.
This particular strip-spring principle is the product of several innovations. A non-concentric geartrain has been linked to the strip-spring in order to smoothen the couple and obtain both amplitude and constant operation for the chronograph.
The geartrain/strip-spring system has been filed for patent as a whole. Instead of its usual curved shape, the geartrain’s shape has been calculated to provide regular energy transmission to the chronograph. In addition, the watch is equipped with a patented titanium chronograph balance that guarantees it is in perfect synch with the movement’s balance. Seeing as one of the characteristics of the Tradition collection is to enable the wearer to see the main parts of the movement above the plate, the use of a heavier material for the balance would have required thinning the watch’s size and its whole look would have been affected. Thus, despite their different frequencies, the two balances are of the same size and their position has been calculated from the point of view of aesthetics.
A different approach
The chronograph function in this timepiece is equipped with two screwed pushers that guarantee its water resistance. Contrary to what usually happens in a chronograph, one of those pushers is used to start recording while the other stops and resets the chronograph to zero. The zero-resetting mechanism winds the strip-spring and allows for the chronograph to be used again. The titanium balance is also surrounded by two stopping systems. The first one frees the balance while the chronograph is still in gear and then, when the chronograph is stopped, it blocks it again in a constraining position thanks to a cam system. In this way, the balance is always in an ideal position, which allows it to immediately have maximum amplitude.
Whilst the aesthetics of this “Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077” stays within the norm, its superb search for symmetry makes it stand out. While the chronograph’s hand is at the timepiece’s center, the silver/gold and hand-guilloché dial is off-centered to 12 o’clock and indicates the hours and the minutes. The indicator of the chronograph’s engagement is at 6 o’clock.
One of the retrograde hands displays the watch’s power reserve whilst the other shows the chronograph’s minute-counter. They are situated at 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock respectively while the two balances face each other at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. The hand-wound timepiece is water resistant to 3 bar (30 m) and comes with a leather strap.