The Automatique Seconde Rétrograde, like all watches in the Tradition collection, is inspired by Breguet’s historical subscription watches. With most of the essential components of the historic movement displayed on the dial, the 7097 dons a new ‘Breguet blue’ guilloché dial for 2020 and will be available exclusively in Breguet boutiques.
Subscription watches for the people
Breguet was not only a mechanical wizard, he was also a savvy businessman and came up with the concept of subscription watches in 1796, an early version of mass-production sustained with crowdfunding. The idea was for potential customers to make an initial down payment, or a ‘souscription’ to finance the construction of a relatively simple pocket watch with a large diameter, a single hand, a simple movement and a very modest price. This, in turn, would ensure that Breguet could buy the parts and set up a production line to produce batches of the same watch. The beauty of the subscription watches was their simple movement construction, which Breguet would incorporate in his first tact watches from 1799.
When the brand introduced its Tradition collection in 2005, the idea was to showcase some of the original components of the movement underneath the dial of Breguet’s subscription watches. However, instead of exhibiting them on the caseback, the bridges, wheels, escapement and barrel were placed on top of the baseplate to be viewed from the dial. The Tradition 7097 appeared in 2015 introducing a model with retrograde seconds to the line-up. Coupled with the rotations of the balance wheel, the incorporation of a retrograde seconds function animated the dial no end.
The 18k white gold case features straight welded lugs with screw bars, it measures 40mm with a thickness of 11.8mm and, like all Breguet watches, has a delicately fluted caseband.
The elegant symmetry of the original movement inside the subscription watch is faithfully reproduced on the dial of the Tradition 7097. Like Breguet’s pocket watch, the mainspring barrel is positioned in the centre and flanked by two fan-shaped structures, one reaching out over the large balance wheel with its Breguet pare-chute shock protection system at 3 o’clock, and the other at 9 o’clock for the centre wheel of the going train.
Unlike the simple one-hand enamel dial of the original, the 7097 houses all the time indications in the upper half of the dial. An off-centred hours and minutes disc at noon is intersected by an elegant arc for the retrograde seconds. The gold disc for the hours and minutes features a hand-guilloché hobnail pattern in the centre and now displays the new blue colour scheme. The Roman numerals and open-tipped hands are quintessential Breguet. The retrograde seconds arc, which sweeps across the hour and minutes disc from 7 to 10 o’clock, features a circular brushed finish and a blued steel hand indicates the retrograde seconds.
The dark grey colour of the plates and bridges features an unusual finish that could be mistaken for a sandblasted finish. A far cry from the more traditional finishes of Geneva stripes or perlage, the gritty technical surface is achieved with a technique known as peening, usually used to increase the hardness of a metal. Basically, the surface of the metal is hammered to create tiny craters.
Although many of the historic mechanical treats are featured on the dial, the view on the reverse side of the watch is no less engaging. The central element is the impressive 22k gold rotor that is shaped like the platinum oscillating weight on Breguet’s perpétuelle self-winding tact watches. Mirror-polished by hand, the rotor pivots in a ceramic bearing to complete its 360⁰ rotations.
But this is as far as the historical allusions go. The movement has an inverted in-lever escapement with silicon pallets and a silicon Breguet overcoil balance spring, 38 jewels and a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound. The balance wheel is made from Glucydur and rhodium-plated with a 3-piece silicon Breguet overcoil.
Availability & Price
The Breguet Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097 in white gold with a blue dial will be available exclusively in Breguet boutiques. The price of the watch is EUR 32,700.
For more information, please visit breguet.com.
The Breguet Tradition 7038 Boutique Edition, for women
In addition to the Breguet Tradition 7097 above, the brand also introduces another Boutique Edition, based on the same movement, this time for women, with the ref. 7038. Still using the same automatic movement with symmetrical construction and retrograde seconds, this feminine model has a 37mm rose gold case with diamond-set bezel (68 brilliant-cut stones) and a winding crown with a ruby. It is worn on an original orange calfskin leather strap with rose gold pin buckle set with 25 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Also new to this model, the guilloché sub-dial is made from iridescent grey Tahitian mother-of-pearl, with a clous de Paris (hobnailing). A rosette pattern is also engraved on the upper side of the barrel, as well as on the solid gold rotor on the caseback.
This Breguet Tradition 7038 Boutique Edition (ref. 7038BR/CT/3V6 D00D) will also be available only from Breguet boutiques and priced at EUR 37,200.