With its rich – and richly documented – history, Breguet never has to venture too far afield for inspiration. The Classique 7137 is a perfect illustration of how a pocket watch from 1794 can still have relevance today. Two new models join the family and although the tweaks are merely aesthetic and the layout, case size and extra-thin movement are identical, they make a difference to the overall mood of the watch. Still a thoroughbred Breguet dress watch, the 7137 suits up for 2020.
The ancestor: the Perpetuelle No. 5 Pocket Watch
Although Abraham-Louis Breguet employed the term ‘perpétuelle’ to refer to his self-winding movements (1780) powered by platinum-weighted rotors and the wearer’s movements, it could well be used to describe the timeless, perpetual appeal of his refined designs. Breguet’s Perpétuelle Repeating Watch No. 5 was presumably delivered to the French journalist and writer F. Jourgniac Saint-Méard (accused of treason during the French Revolution).
Having translated the art of engine-turning to watchmaking since 1786, Breguet’s No. 5 pocket watch featured elegant Roman numerals on the chapter ring and a handsome guilloché dial with three off-centred indications: a power reserve in an elegant fan-shaped display; phases of the moon in an arc with a blue background and a gold Man in the Moon; and a circular counter for the subsidiary seconds.
Till now, four versions of the 7137 were available in gold cases with silvered dials. The most evident novelty is the blue dial on the white gold model. Described by the brand as ‘Breguet blue’, the watch looks sharper, more contemporary and fresher. The rose gold model features the more classic silvered dial created by using a gold base and applying a silver powder with a soft brush.
Another design change is to be found on the moon phase indicator; the golden ‘Man in the Moon’ face we are accustomed to seeing has been exchanged for a more realistic silver embossed Moon complete with craters floating in a starry sky.
Using an engine-turning lathe for circular decorations and a straight-line machine for linear designs, artisans at Breguet continue the traditional art of guillochage. The patterns on the dials of both watches have been refreshed and are reminiscent of the patterned fabrics often used for men’s suits. The sun motif of the former 7137 models inside the date counter at 6 o’clock has been substituted for a crisp chequerboard (damier) pattern, the power reserve indicator now has a basket weave (panier maillé) pattern and the centre of the dial with a hobnail pattern (clous de Paris).
The gold case of the Breguet Classique 7137 has a 39mmn diameter and a lean profile of 8.65mm. A perfect dress watch size, the elegant case is polished and features the finely fluted caseband of all Breguet watches and the rounded welded lugs with screw bars of the Classique and Tradition families. The chapter ring for the hours still displays the classic Roman hour numerals although all the hands on the white gold model with the blue dial match the case, while the rose gold model features blued hands for contrast. Naturally, the hour and minute hands are signature open-tipped Breguet style.
A sapphire crystal caseback reveals the extra-thin hand-decorated automatic calibre 502.3 with its open barrel, Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges and off-centred gold rotor engine-turned by hand. With 256 components, 35 jewels, a frequency of 3Hz and a 45-hour power reserve for the hour, minutes, phases and age of the Moon, power reserve indicator and date, the movement is just 3.65mm thick. It is also fitted with a free-sprung balance and with a balance-spring and pallet horns in silicon.
Depending on the model, a blue or brown alligator strap with a white or rose gold folding buckle accompanies the Breguet Classique 7137, which will retail for EUR 39,000. More details at breguet.com.