SECTION 1 - HISTORY
The name Breguet is pretty elusive to the general public, but it is one of the oldest and most respected watchmaking companies in the world dating back to the almost mythical figure of Abraham Louis Breguet, who founded his Parisian laboratory in 1775.
Breguet, the man, was one of the giants of watchmaking: apart from his most famed invention, the tourbillon, he perfected the first self-winding watch (the Perpetuelle) in 1780 and created the first, now-lost-to-time, wristwatch in history in 1810 for Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples.
Breguet was born in 1747 in Neuchatel and studied watchmaking for ten years under two masters of the craft: Ferdinand Berthoud and Jean-Antoine Lepine.
Then, his marriage to the daughter of an affluent bourgeois offered him the opportunity to set up his own workshop in Paris, at 51 Quai de l’Horloge.
The French capital, the center of the known world back then - and the innovative designs of Breguet caught the attention of the VIPs of the era: the nobility and royalty.
The King of France, Louis XVI, bought several of his watches, and a mysterious and affluent admirer of Queen Marie Antoinette, commissioned him for the famous No. 160 in 1783. The requirements for the watch were to be "as spectacular as possible, incorporating the fullest range of horological expertise known at the time”.
The No. 160 was completed only in 1827 by Breguet’s son, four years after his father’s death, and is now displayed in the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem.
In 1801, Breguet patented the tourbillon system, designed to render a watch more precise by countering the effects of gravity. Breguet mounted the escapement and balance wheel in a sort of rotating cage. These two elements made a circle around the watch independently, “averaging” the effects of gravity on the different positions and mechanisms, and so, rendering the watch more precise.
In 1807, the business became “Breguet et Fils”, as son, Louis-Antoine, joined the company. Breguet remained in the hands of the family for four generations; then, went to the Brown family from 1870 to 1970, and, after the quartz crisis, was finally bought by the Swatch Group in 1999.
Through the years, Breguet watches have always followed a sort of “brand code”. The watches often offer guilloche dials over linear coin cases, often in precious metals, and the hands are almost always of the “blue pomme” variety – referred to today as “Breguet hands”.
As we have noted, Breguet was an amazing inventor and innovator, and being at the then center of the world, he had access to a network of international watchmaking contacts across all of Europe.
His professional stature was so high that, more often than not, he was consulted by fellow watchmakers about the latest technological innovations, to which he frequently introduced his own ideas.
In 1780, Breguet perfected and produced the world's first self-winding watch, the Perpétuelle, improving on earlier designs;
In 1783, he invented the Gong-spring, the first ancestor of the minute repeaters;
In 1783, he developed the signature Breguet hands;
In 1790, he developed one of the first anti-shock systems, the Pare-chute, featuring an elastic steel strip spring;
In 1795, he introduced the so-called Breguet spiral, where the last coil is raised and bent towards the center in order to improve the performances of the balance wheel;
In 1801, he patented his most famed invention, the tourbillon;
In 1810, he made the world's first modern wristwatch (Breguet No. 2639).
The innovative spirit of the watchmaker has not dwindled during the years. The company is one of the pioneers in the use of silicon for watch components.
Silicon is the perfect watchmaking material. It is anti-magnetic and three times less dense than steel, so it is perfect to reduce inertia and wear on movements while staying resistant and durable.
This is why the company has introduced several references in its lineup featuring extensive use of silicon parts - the Classique 5177, 5197, and 5837 models.
The Type XXII 10 Hz watch is an industry first. The designers have reached a higher beating (72,000 bph) through extensive use of silicon parts, permitting to achieve the precision of 1/20th of a second.
SECTION 2 - ICONIC PIECES
The modern Breguet collection is composed of several lines.
- The first is the Classique: Simple, Grandes Complications – popular round pieces, usually with coin cases and thin, soldered lugs;
- The second is the technical La Marine – water-resistant, distinguished by the presence of crown guards;
- The Heritage is an Art Deco-inspired line, featuring tonneau-shaped cases;
- The Type XX, XXI, XXII are the Breguet’s interpretation of pilots’ watches – sports chronographs, based on World War II-era designs;
- The Tradition is a horological excellence series of timepieces – featuring open-faced watches with the movement clearly on the front.
1 - Classique Line
The Breguet Classique series represents the most classic shape of the Breguet watch.
It features a simple, coin-shaped case with narrow soldered lugs.
The dials are usually guilloched by hand, or plain, with a Grand Feu enamel coating. The hour numerals and hour marks differ, from the more classy ones featuring the signature Breguet numerals or the popular Roman numerals.
The use of the distinctive Breguet hands, with their signature tips, help characterize these watches and render them what they are, and always will be: a timeless classic. And to preserve their authenticity, every one of them is marked with the famous Breguet’s secret signature, introduced in 1795 by Abraham Louis Breguet himself.
The cases are generally understated, often made in precious metals, and seldom feature decoration with tiny diamonds along the bezel.
As for the movement, you may find everything you need or desire in the Classique line. From the simplest date with seconds to the most complex Day/Date, Hora Mundi (worldtimer), Alarm or Perpetual Calendar Moonphase.
2 - Marine Line
The Marine series represents the Breguet’s interpretation of sports luxury - always along with its typical style. These watches look a bit more “solid” than the Classique series.
The cases and the bezels are bigger and tiered in different levels, and often feature two crown guards.
The lugs are a bit chunkier, with a definite marine vibe, in some cases incorporating a metal bracelet.
Some of the more sporty models also feature the introduction of titanium as the component of the case as well, along with the traditional gold from the watchmaker’s tradition.
Chronographs are quite diffused in this line, as well as smaller Ladies’ models, often embellished by the placement of diamonds along with the bezel and the lugs.
3 - Heritage Line
The heritage line, with its distinguished, Art Deco-inspired tonneau case, is the Breguet line that winks to the period of the Roaring Twenties. The classy elegance of this particular line is enhanced by the watchmaker’s savvy use of materials and impeccable attention to the finishings, making it a perfect choice for an uncommon and assertive dress watch.
The dials sport Roman numerals and display almost always a small seconds dial at six.
The Heritage line offers a few interesting complications, between which the chronograph version is one of the most common.
4 - Type XX Line
The sporty, assertive style of the Type XX line represents Breguet’s interpreting of the pilots’ watch. This is a technical line, which has little in common with the rest of Breguet’s production,
except for the painstaking attention to details and the extreme elegance and balance of the
design, making these timepieces extremely legible and beautiful.
The heavily ribbed bezel of the watch is one of its most notable traits, along with its button-shaped big pushers on the sides of the crown.
Either with a leather wristband or a metal bracelet, the Type XX collection is an amazing choice for a “different” sporty chronograph that is not afraid to participate in the most elegant social occasions.
5 - Tradition Line
When you look at the Tradition line, you cannot but notice how the past blends seamlessly with the future. This line of Breguet represents the meeting of the two souls of the company: the traditional watchmaking excellence and the innovation drive towards the future. This is why the Tradition is maybe the most archetypical collection of the watchmaker.
Horology prowess is on complete display here: the Tradition timepieces show the intimate workings of the watch and display them for the pleasure of the onlooker. The cases, in platinum or 18-karat white or rose gold, reveal a typical Breguet design, but the contents are arranged so to elicit an emotional response.
The dials are tiny - but here, the designers have placed the ultimate goal into providing this ultimate voyeurist appeal of exposing almost lasciviously the movement and its intimate workings.
It won’t be a surprise to find that this line is one of the most exclusive of the watchmaker, because along with the simpler timepieces, we find others which display some more exotic complications.
SECTION 3 - NEWS
The Breguet company displayed what the future will bring at the beginning of this year - and it is focused on two directions: technical excellence and increased attention to Ladies' models.
The Classique Grandes Complications line has a new entry: the precious Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat 5395 timepiece, with an entirely skeletonized movement.
This is an undertaking that is so Breguet, technical and artistic at the same time, with a focus on the perfect craftsmanship that has always been one of the main traits of the watchmaker.
The Classique collection also displays several new feminine references featuring a mother-of-pearl dial. Also, the Marine collection, which has been presented in the markets of the Far East, has been dedicated to modern-day women explorers, with a new guilloche pattern, called “marea” to capture the natural movement of the oceans.
This amazing design comes alive on mother-of-pearl, the particularly fragile and exclusive material which graces the dial and rotor of the movement for this peculiar collection.
SECTION 4 - GOSSIP/STYLE
Jan 2017 - Not a rockstar or an actor, but nobody has a doubt that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s de facto modern czar, has nothing to envy from Czar Alexander the Ist, who was also a Breguet lover.
Among his other important timepieces from the best watchmakers in the world, Mr. Putin is rather fond of his Breguet Marine, which he wears on a rubber strap. Breguet’s ties with Russia are very deep: in Aleksandr Pushkin’s poem Eugene Onegin, the author mentions Onegin’s Breguet watch four times.
Apr 2016 - Do you know what watch Batman wears? A Breguet.
Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) in the film Batman vs. Superman wears a Breguet Tradition Tourbillon. According to the watchmaker, the watch is the Ref. 7047PT Tradition Fusee Tourbillon – with a case crafted in platinum.
It is one of the top models of the watchmaker, and a kind of luxury any mere mortal who is not superhero material can enjoy - is he is willing to separate from a paltry $189,700.
Apr 2015 - It is not widely known, but Breguet is one of the rare exceptions in the horology world - that is, one of the companies which do not issue “endorsements” to VIPs to wear its watches.
This means that while other brands are extremely popular, Breguet is quite elusive - and every Breguet you see on the wrist of someone is there because he genuinely likes it - and paid a good amount of cash for the privilege of owning one.
This is the case of Robert DeNiro, who was spotted wearing a beautiful Breguet Classique No. 4787.
SECTION 5 – CURRENT MOST POPULAR MODELS
From our observation, the most popular Breguet models come from the Classique line and the Marine line, which also feature the most affordable Breguet references.
The Type XX also seems to be in high demand, as the watch represents great value for the price, making it a very interesting first step into the Breguet world.
For a very reasonable sum, you get a beautiful chronograph which is on par with models from other high-end manufacturers - and it is a Breguet, so it brings more horological quality and tradition to the table.
The Breguet watchmaker also shows a lot of commitment to Ladies watches and is bound to launch them worldwide, especially in the Eastern world. The end result of this drive is that you are going to find many references on the watch market, some of which represent truly good value both for man and woman, from the prestigious home of Quai de l’Horloge.
SECTION 6 – CURRENT APPROXIMATE PRICE LIST BY LINE/MODEL
The Classique line
The Classique line features the Breguet interpreting of the dress watch.
It is perfectly balanced, extremely linear, and displays the typical Breguet characteristics.
All in all, it exudes an aura of class and sophistication that you rarely find even in products of other very prestigious watch manufacturers.
||Gold, Platinum, Gemstones
||Several depending on versions; most notable are worldtimer, chronograph, alarm, and the perpetual calendar
The “basic” Classique model displays hours, minutes and seconds hands (either sweeping or on a small dial). The dial is either guilloche or enamel grand feu.
These references start from around $6,500 on the second-wrist market and climb up to around $11,500. The gemstones on the bezel add some $2,000 to the price.
The seconds retrograde versions and date versions are a bit costlier, starting around the $11,500 mark.
Le Reveil du Tsar is Breguet’s alarm watch. You find the first models around the $16,500 mark, and upwards for the most sophisticated “musical” references, like the La Musicale, which is just shy of the $50,000 mark.
The day/date complications with moon phase are definitely more costly, starting at $22,500 and crossing easily the $30,000.
This is also the realm of the chronograph - expect to pay around $35,000 for a good model.
The Marine line
The Marine line gives a more sporty twist to the Classique line but stays firmly in the dress watch category. As said, the watches show a more definite utilitarian design, but still the precious cases and the wristbands, more often than not, in elegant lizard and crocodile, bely their formal inspiration.
||Sports Luxury Watch
||Gold, Platinum, Gemstones
||Mainly Date and Chronograph
The most common Marine models, both for men and women, hover around the $12,000 mark, a tad more for the models with date functions, which are on the market for around $14,000
As small diameters are still a no-no in the Western world, you can find smaller ladies models at a sizable discount, around $6,500 for the basic model.
Talking about chronographs, the entry-level of second-wrist models is around $13,500, up to $25,000. The mother-of-pearl ladies models are available for about $17,500 with diamond additions adding a couple thousand more to the price.
The Heritage line
The Heritage line displays a vintage looks which makes it an interesting alternative to the Classique line. Also, the Heritage looks less intrusive on smaller wrists and would represent a better choice for a unisex watch in this case. And it looks very distinguished as well.
||Gold, Platinum, Gemstones
||Mainly Date, Chronograph, and Moon Phases
The Heritage line mostly offers dress watches, with or without the chronograph complication, in a beautiful tonneau case in precious metal, sometimes adorned with diamonds set on the bezel.
The basic reference for the line is available for $11,000, rising up to $13,000 for the date version, and $20,000 or more for the diamond-studded version.
The moon phase Heritage shows a similar pattern starting at $18,500 and reaching $30,000 for the diamond studded versions.
The chronograph starts at $16,500 and moves up from their for more precious stone references.
The Type XX line
The Type XX and similar lines group Breguet’s sports chronographs.
They display a large assortment of references with very small differences between them.
The most relevant is the material of the case, which can be stainless steel as well as a precious metal, and the type of wristband or bracelet.
||Sports Luxury Watch
||Stainless Steel, Gold, Titanium
References from this line start at around $5,500 for models with the leather wristband to $6,500 for metal bracelets, up to $13,500 for the gold versions with a leather wristband.
The titanium reference with leather wristband fares around the $7,500 mark.
The La Tradition line
The La Tradition line, as stated, is where the best qualities of the watchmaker’s movements emerge. These timepieces show the movements from the inside out, providing a beautiful sight for the owners and onlookers of such precious timepieces. You will find here the most important complications, culminating in the king of them all, the tourbillon.
||Gold, Platinum, Gems
||Skeleton, Retrograde seconds, GMT, Chronograph, Tourbillon
The basic models of the La Tradition line, in yellow gold, start from around $14,500.
The retrograde functions add a whopping $10,000 to the sum, bringing retrograde versions to about $24,500 - around the same price of a GMT model.
Chronographs are much more expensive, starting around $62,500, and tourbillon, some of which feature the fusee transmission, are a tad shy of $100,000.
SECTION 7: RECENT BLOG POST
Breguet Classique Hora Mundi World Time Asia and Oceania Watch
This is a 44mm watch with a rose gold case and a sapphire backing.
There are three variations of this watch that match the world time zone, Europe-Africa, Asia-Oceania, and the American Continent...
SECTION 8: Q & A
What royalty wears Breguet watches?
Breguet Watches have graced the wrists of Sir Winston Churchill, Prince Charles, Queen Victoria, Nicolas Sarkozya, America's first President George Washington and also Napoleon Bonaparte along with many more famous heads of state and some of the world most important people.
How does the Breguet timepiece brand compare to Breitling? What is a good entry design for a Breguet?
Breguet belongs to the field of High End and Master Watchmaking, while Breitling is positioned slightly lower between High Middle and High End. As a good entry, the Type XX, reference 3800 from Breguet is surprisingly affordable considering the brand.
Breguet vs. Blancpain - Who has the best customer service for long term value?
Well, Blancpain used to be a very good brand as per demand in the market but during the last few years, its falling left right and center. Even the brand itself isn’t producing new ideas. This definitely is hurting brand enthusiasts.
On the other hand, Breguet is one of the most celebrated Swiss Watch Brand. The brand was first to make a wristwatch ever. It was made for the sister of Napolean Bonaparte.
Are tourbillon watches worth the extra cash in terms of accuracy?
Today you would not buy a tourbillon watch because it is more precise than other watches - maybe it is, but this amount of added precision is so tiny it would not excuse paying tens of thousands USD for it.
You would buy it because it is an amazing display of technology and creativity, and it is beautiful to look at. A tourbillon is a work of art and genius, more than just a mechanical device, and should be appreciated as such.
Which wristwatch company came out with the first tourbillon?
The tourbillon was an invention of Abraham Louis Breguet, and dates back to the beginning of the 1800s - exactly, 26 June 1801. What you see here is the original drawing submitted by Breguet illustrating the patent.