Tradition is a buzzword in Swiss watchmaking as what we see manufactured today is typically the result of centuries of brand heritage. In the modern era, many novelties are created through age-old techniques, but with design codes and constructions that, perhaps, speak more to the sensibilities of today. Breguet, however, in their Tradition line really live up to the name with a design DNA that is truly reflective of the aesthetics of their founder Abraham Breguet. We don’t really see these types of watches manufactured often – short of securing a George Daniels or Roger W. Smith piece. To be frank, Breguet’s clientele typically gravitate to more sober aesthetics. But today Breguet has managed to give their traditional aesthetic and architecture a “Breguet Blue” makeover with their new Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597BB/GY/9WU incorporating a splash of modern flavour.
To the uninitiated, a Breguet watch can seem pricey at retail. Upon further inspection, however, it becomes clearer just how much watchmaking is packed into a watch like the Tradition. The Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597BB/GY/9WU case, made of 18K white gold, maintains the signatures of previous Tradition references: a fully polished case, coined caseband and crown, plus welded lugs that are then polished by the watchmaker to remove the evidence of the hand-craftsmanship (which is further evidence they are not cutting corners here). Perhaps the only element that is not traditional, regarding its case construction, is its more modern diameter of 40mm. At 12.1mm thick, it is definitely not the slimmest dress watch but it will certainly slip under a cuff with relative ease due to its conical sloped bezel. A final note I should mention about the case is its pusher at the 10′ position, which serves as a corrector for the retrograde complication. It is incredibly simple to use, and with each actuation it will advance the central date hand a day forward. And, because it is a screwed-pusher, it cannot be engaged accidentally.
Watch geeks often note how they sometimes want to just wear their watch upside down, so that they can see the movement in action at all times while the watch is on their wrist – and here lies the essence of what makes a Breguet Tradition watch so appealing. There are no secrets held here, every component is pretty much on full display on the dial. It is a very open layout, with small elegantly hand-finished bridges ensuring you can see each of the radially brushed wheels, lever escapement, and even the beveled barrel housing the mainspring at its center. The movement has an anthracite treatment, which reveals Breguet’s desire to bring Tradition a step closer to modern visual codes. But the frosted surfaces speak to the pocket watches of the past, the era of watchmaking which defines Breguet at its core.
The highlight of many Breguet timepieces, externally speaking, are their guilloched dials – manufactured in the traditional sense. Not stamped, performed on a lathe and engine-turned by hand. The guilloched sub-dial, which conveys the hours and minutes, is where we first spot the Breguet Blue flavour, a rich dynamic blue that is refreshing despite its saturation in the marketplace. I also really enjoy how the hour ring, where the hours are conveyed by Roman numerals, has a contrasting radial sunburst texture that, forgive me, results in really intriguing light play for the sub-dial. The hours and minutes are, of course, indicated by two Breguet hands – a style adopted by many other brands, but an in-house style, so to speak, for Breguet. At the centre of the dial, a hand-bent and blued retrograde date hand zig-zags over the components to ensure when it flips back from 31 to 1 it does not hit any of the components beneath. The Breguet Blue semi-circle date indication matches the feel of the sub-dial hour ring, radially brushed with a dynamic sunburst effect.
The strap and movement
Matching the dial accents of the Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597BB/GY/9WU, you have a blue alligator leather strap with a white gold pin/buckle. I get that these days, people love a good strap monster – and the anthracite and blue tones could certainly be paired with other options theoretically. That being said, the strap is securely affixed to the case via a screwed-bar rather than a spring bar – so this is not a watch you want anyone other than a watchmaker exchanging the strap. I also think you cannot really top the factory blue strap, so it should not be a dealbreaker for any prospective buyer. Inside the watch, visible beneath an exhibition caseback as well, is the in-house automatic calibre 505Q. Like the front of the movement, its backside is also superbly finished with frosted and bevelled surfaces. What really intrigues me though is its winding rotor that tops off the 50 hour power reserve while worn on the wrist. While the bridge the mass is affixed to is brushed, the entire mass itself is black polished – as well as engraved with the name of the manufacture. It is really quite stunning visually, and an uncommon finish, and shape quite frankly, for a winding rotor. It is also worth noting that the balance utilizes a silicon hairspring, making the calibre highly resistant against magnetism.
All in all, if you are a horophile looking to enjoy the best of traditional watchmaking architecture, with a toe or two in the Breguet Blue waters of modernity, the Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597BB/GY/9WU is a compelling timepiece to add to your collection.
Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597BB/GY/9WU pricing and availability:
The Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597BB/GY/9WU is available now via Breguet boutiques and authorized dealers. Price: $38,600 USD
|Model||Tradition Quantième Rétrograde|
|Case Material||White Gold|
|Case Dimensions||40mm x 12.1mm|
|Dials||Openworked, Breguet Blue subdial and date display|
|Strap||Blue alligator leather, white gold pin/buckle|
|Movement||505Q, 14 ½”’|
|Power Reserve||50 hours|
|Complications||Hours, minutes, retrograde date|