On 1 February 2022, China welcomes the New Year and the advent of the Year of the Tiger, one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac making its appearance once every twelve years. Associated with strength, ferocity and intelligence, the Chinese revere the tiger as the king of all beasts. Breguet celebrates the Chinese New Year with an eight-piece limited edition depicting the majestic feline on the dial of its ultra-thin 7145 Classique brought to life with a combination of hand-engraving and guilloché.
Apart from his countless horological innovations, Abraham-Louis Breguet is also credited as a precursor of watch design, employing a host of design codes that gave his watches a unique personality and made them harder to counterfeit. Among the many ‘unmistakable signs’ were the guilloché or engine-turned areas of the dial, the fluting on the caseband, the secret signature and the oft emulated hollow-tipped hands.
Breguet’s skilled engravers take a whole week to carve and decorate the tiger on the gold dial. During the first stage, an engraver using a burin delineates the contours using bas-relief carving. This ancient sculptural technique used to create three-dimensional carvings involves removing material to project the motif from its supporting background. Parts of the tiger and the decoration created with bas-relief are then coloured in a black galvanic treatment to accentuate the contours and depth of the engraving. The realistic rendering of the tiger’s head and back contrasts to the more abstract geometric engravings of his limbs, tail and the background scenery decorated with a multitude of guilloché patterns. Some of the tiny segments decorated with guilloché are then hand-engraved. According to the brand, the art of guillochage or engine-turning is so intrinsically associated with Breguet that 30 guilloché lathes have been rebuilt and are used in the workshops, making it one of the most important centres of this artistic finishing in the watchmaking industry.
A hand-engraved cartouche with the Breguet signature is incorporated on the dial at 7 o’clock, and the classic blued steel open-tipped hands sweep across the animated background scenery of the dial. To avoid any distracting elements, the hours are represented by tiny round gold hour markers.
The 18k rose gold case has a diameter of 40mm, and although the press release doesn’t indicate this specification, the thickness should be around 5.4mm like the smaller 38mm Classique 5157 models. The caseband displays the signature fluting that is cold-rolled into the caseband and then finished by hand, while the lugs are welded into the caseband and rely on screw pins as opposed to sprung bars to hold the strap between the horns.
The lean case height is thanks to the ultra-thin self-winding movement that can be viewed through the caseback glass. Developed in the 1960s, calibre 502.3 is one of the thinnest automatic movements in production, with a thickness of just 2.4mm. Equipped with an off-centred solid 22k gold oscillating weight decorated with a hand-guilloché barleycorn pattern, the openworked barrel delivers a 45-hour power reserve. The 162-component movement beats at 3Hz and is fitted with a flat silicon balance spring.
The Breguet 7145 Classique Year of the Tiger is a limited numbered edition of eight pieces. It is fitted with a black alligator leather strap with a pink gold pin buckle. Price upon request.
More information at www.breguet.com.