The bold aesthetic of Breguet’s latest Tradition models hints at the advanced mechanics within.
Although the new Breguet Tradition 7077 and 7087 preserve the collection’s antique design touches and finishes—which are displayed in a modern, openwork format—the movements inside them are much more aggressive in their constructions and technologies than past examples. “These are not like normal movements you can use in various parts of the collection,” says Marc A. Hayek, president and CEO of Breguet. “With these pieces, we start with a blank sheet of paper and the understanding that the piece will be different from what we are used to today.” In fact, the two new timepieces—a chronograph and a minute-repeater tourbillon—have evolved significantly from the first Tradition watches developed 10 years ago by Hayek’s grandfather, the former Swatch Group chairman and Breguet CEO Nicolas G. Hayek Sr.
An example of this technical daring is found in the Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077. Inspired by the controls of an 1825 Breguet observation timer, the watch has a second balance spring operating at 5 Hz that regulates the chronograph function. A blade spring, which is charged when the chronograph is reset, enables the watch to time short-interval events up to 20 minutes.
The unorthodox method of construction is even more pronounced in the 7087 minute-repeater tourbillon, which confronts the observer with two prominent, asymmetrically looping gongs. “We started without any preconceptions, such as ‘The gongs have to be round,’ ” says Hayek. “We had to decide where to fit them and ask ourselves how the arrangement affected sound quality.” Drawing on experience gained from other recent acoustic models, such as the Queen of Naples Sonnerie, Breguet’s engineers went far beyond the design vernacular of their conventional minute repeaters, changing the attachment points of the gongs and implementing radical new components such as a vertical hammer assembly and a governor with magnetic speed controls.
While the appearance of the new Tradition models is dramatic, their underlying technology showcases the high level of research and development in which the brand has engaged over the last few years. Hayek, however, is keenly conscious of the unique visual appeal the Tradition models offer. “An important part of having a passion about watches is sharing it with friends,” he says. “This is not just a normal collector’s watch, but a piece you really want to talk about as well.”
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