The Breguet Tradition 7047 is a masterpiece you won't forget

The Breguet Tradition 7047 is a masterpiece you won't forget

11 October 2015 | Breguet , Luxury Watches

What would the world of watchmaking be today had Breguet never lived? It would be a very different world indeed and we probably wouldn't be here today to tackle the topic of mechanical complications had it not be for Breguet and his inventions, at least 50% of the haute horlogerie related articles currently available online would disappear at the blink of an eye and the role of watchmaking in history, in particular the role of many Swiss manufacturers, wouldn't be so important as it is today. On more than one occasion, when we have talked about the technical characteristics of some complicated watches, tourbillons or specific parts of the mechanics of a timepiece, we have often quoted a certain Breguet and the use that many brands make of the numerous inventions patented by the famous watchmaker. A typical example of this topic was the piece that I published last week about the MB&F “Frost” dial of the Legacy Machine.

Articles about the Breguet brand are probably not that common but Horbiter® is quickly catching up on this, however we also need to keep in mind that Breguet watches are not exactly worldwide available and most of the times it is even quite difficult to spend enough time with them at watch events. The Breguet Tradition 7047 is quite a rare timepiece launched in 2014, you can only find it in the manufacturer's boutiques and it is a haute horlogerie complicated that is sold at the astronomical and somehow prohibitive price of 190K Euros. If you are interested in getting your hands on one of these marvellous timepieces, please note that the manufacturer's boutique in Milan has one of them made of platinum that is still available (it is the same one that you can see in the picture).
This is the first one of a series of articles exclusively devoted (also) to the 2015 novelties and it is accompanied by live pictures; something that I have always preferred over digital pictures because they really pay justice to the exceptional watchmakers' work that lies behind the mechanics of these items. The Tradition Collection is Breguet's collection par excellence and, from the point of view of style, it best represents the zenith of the brand's fame that was reached during the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19thcentury. Back in those days, if you wanted to buy a Breguet, you were asked to pay a certain sum of money in advance and then wait for the delivery of your watch; something that still occurs today with Ferrari and its long waiting lists. Nicholas Hayek is the person who has taken the brand back to its former grandeur and splendour and has relaunched Breguet in the modern watch market.
Abraham Louis Breguet patented his Tourbillon on 26th June 1801 and that specific date is engraved on the case of the Breguet Tradition 7047 (Brevet du 7 Messidor an 9). It would be more correct to define Breguet as an inventor rather than as a skilled watchmaker and today Swiss manufacturers still honour his memory by taking his inventions to a higher level. The group to which the Breguet brand belongs is constantly trying to put together tradition and the best discoveries of their advanced research studies on materials and technologies to fully translate the pioneering spirit of the company's founder into a brand new modern style. From a technical point of view, the Breguet Tradition 7047 is a Turbillon featuring a fusée-and-chain transmission complication that ensures a constant energy flow going from the barrel to the train wheel bridge; this solution has come back into fashion in the last 2-3 years and we have dealt with it on a few occasions already (please browse our haute horlogerie section for more info.)
This particular complication takes inspiration from the typical tradition of watchmaking and Breguet took it to the next level by devising some techniques that are not visible to the naked eyes but that deserve to be mentioned nevertheless. Let's start with the famous “Breguet spiral” (a flat concentric spiral with an upraised last coil) and its evolution over the last centuries; in his continuous attempts to reach more and more accurate levels of precision, Breguet came up with numerous solutions and inventions and one of them is a spiral balance spring that dramatically improved the traditional curved spiral spring invented by Huygens. Since 2006, the Breguet spiral spring has been made of silicon rather than of metal and thanks to the use of this new material for its manufacturing, it has reached even more performing results; silicon has anti-magnetic properties that no other metal has but, at the same time, it is a chemical element that is not as easily malleable as other metals are.
In some models the spiral spring and the escapement are both made of the same material (I don't have any information whether silicon is being used for the Tradition 7047's other parts too) but the message coming from the manufacturer is pretty clear and it aims at improving universally valid solutions by applying new technologies to it that were not available at the end of the 18th century. Another pro of silicon is its light weight (the balance wheel that is made of titanium is also very light) and when silicon is used to manufacture some parts of a timepiece, it highly reduces the need to constantly lubricate the gear, thus improving the durability of the timepiece itself.
When you get to study a complicated timepiece at an event or in a boutique, you might run the risk of overlooking its aesthetic look and general balance because you are too busy observing the details of its complications or finishing. The Breguet Tradition 7047 is probably the most balanced of the watches pertaining to the Tradition Collection, it is the timepiece that tends the least towards the somehow classic-baroque style of some of the brand's models; the size of the tourbillon and of the dial that are symmetrically aligned along a line that cuts the digits at 2 o' clock and at 7 o' clock, the fusée-and-chain transmission mechanism placed at a lower level (at first glance the chain is virtually invisible) the large barrel with its power reserve gauge all create a harmonious overall appearance that is maintained by the extremely curved glass box featuring an extremely vertical edge that allows the user to enjoy every detail of the mechanical movement even from a three-quarter view.
The case of the Breguet Tradition 7047 is made of 950 platinum, its diameters measures 41mm, while its thickness measures 16mm (15,95mm to be more precise). The case-band features the classic finishing with vertical grooves and the crown sports the engraved “B” lettering of the brand's logo that is also present on the folding buckle. Today, the market of high-end watches offers many versions of the tourbillon and this type of watch is constantly being improved, further developed and complicated (good examples of these improvements are the triaxial tourbillon wrist watch and the new models created by Greubel Forsey). Breguet has always been loyal to its original interpretation of the tourbillon watch, it has improved it and “doubled” it but it has willfully decided not to revolutionize it. If I were asked to choose a tourbillon among the many existing ones, I wouldn't probably know what to opt for because there are many options available on the market and all of them are good and fascinating but there is one thing I am sure of: if I were to further consider all the existing options, none of them would be as authentic and original as a Breguet tourbillon.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Breguet; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®
@Gaetano Cimmino
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