Launched as part of Breguet’s revamped Marine collection in 2017, the Marine Equation Marchante 5887 sails in today with a rose gold case and a new dial colour in slate grey. With its formidable presence, the 5887 packs a perpetual calendar, a tourbillon and an ingenious running (marchante) equation of time indicator along with the aesthetic upgrades of the 2017 Marine family on its hull and deck. Powering this phenomenon is the equally fascinating ultra-thin automatic tourbillon calibre 581 with its peripheral rotor winding system. Let’s take a closer look.
Abraham-Louis Breguet was appointed Horloger de la Marine Royale – chronometer-maker to the French Royal Navy – in 1815. One of the most prestigious titles for a watchmaker of his day, Breguet began producing precision marine chronometers on a regular basis. The launch of the first Marine line of watches in 1990 by the brand harked back to this particular phase of Breguet’s career. In 2017, the Marine line was given a complete makeover offering a more contemporary and ‘sportier’ (read water-resistant and more casual) product in the classic line-up of Breguet watches. Since then, the Marine has been available in time-and-date models (5517), chronographs (5527), striking alarms (5547) and all the way up to a Grande Complication.
The Marine Tourbillon Equation Marchante 5887 belongs to this last category, as it combines the practicality of a perpetual calendar, the spectacle of a tourbillon (Breguet’s invention) and an equation of time (a somewhat obsolete function for today’s mariners but still pretty pleasant), all set against a dial enlivened with choppy waves and extravagant details and finishes. The 5887, which has already been produced in platinum with a blue dial and in rose gold with a silvered dial, shows its new face. This combination of a slate-grey dial works very well with the warm rose gold, a grander, richer combination in line with the unabashedly complex nature of this Breguet Marine Tourbillon Equation Marchante 5887.
Deck and hull
The impressive 18k rose gold hull of this watch has a diameter of 43.9mm and a thickness of 11.75mm, large across but with a surprisingly slim girth. Equally impressive, given the cargo on board and the presence of a sapphire crystal caseback, is the 100m water-resistance. Like all Breguet timepieces, the caseband is fluted as is the crown. Most of the case is polished, including the stepped bezel and chronograph pushers, save the central brushed finish on the lug.
If you look at the chapter ring for the hours you will notice how it is slightly off-centre, veering to the left; the swirling engine-turned pattern on the periphery is thicker on the right and practically absent on the upper left side of the dial. A similar off-centred tactic is adopted for the large aperture of the 60-second tourbillon and equation of time cam. Sitting between 5 and 6 o’clock, the pronounced aperture squeezes against the chapter ring provoking an indentation. Quirky touches that add character and personality to this Breguet Marine Tourbillon Equation Marchante 5887 and refer to A.L. Breguet’s taste for off-centred indications.
The rose gold Roman hours are applied and crowned with nautical pennants evoking the silhouette of a ship’s wheel. The dots between the hour numerals (explained below) and the pennants are luminescent, as are the classic Breguet moon-tipped hands of the rose gold hour and minute hands. Two silver rectangular windows on the chapter ring relay the day of the week (left), and the month, which is on the right, also includes a discreet leap year indication to the far right of the window. The date is indicated by a retrograde anchor-tipped hand pointing to an arc with white Arabic numerals placed just below the hour markers from 9 to 3 o’clock.
Tourbillon and Equation of Time
An extremely generous aperture houses the 60-second tourbillon. The basic notions of tourbillon design, invented and patented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801, remain unchanged: the balance wheel, spiral and escapement are placed inside a carriage (here in titanium) that performs one rotation per minute cancelling out rate errors provoked by gravity.
However, the tourbillon is not alone in its revolutions and is accompanied by the equation of time cam, that strange kidney-bean frame you can see under the bridge – note how the bridge is engraved with the words Marine Royale. The cam is placed on a sapphire disc with the months and completes a full rotation per year without obstructing the view of the tourbillon below.
An equation of time indicates the difference between solar (true) time and conventional mean time (aka civil or standard time). An equation of time complication displays how many minutes have to be added or deducted from the mean time to get the actual solar time. Although it is not a particularly useful complication today, it was a vital calculation in celestial navigation to determine longitude. What is complicated, however, is the way Breguet has displayed the equation of time allowing civil and solar time to be consulted simultaneously.
Unlike many linear counters used to display the discrepancies between solar time and mean time, Breguet has incorporated two minute hands, one for traditional civil time and a second hand, the one with the golden faceted Sun, to track solar time. The minute hand tracking solar time, which runs either ahead or behind the minute hand (hence the appellation marchante in the name of the watch) indicates the discrepancies of solar and mean time, which can vary from 14 minutes minus to 16 minutes plus throughout the year. It also explains why the dots between the hour markers vary so much. Perhaps not an invaluable complication today, it is a definite conversation piece.
Guillochage is synonymous with Breguet and a dial without guilloché decoration would not rank as a thoroughbred Breguet. The gold dial features an engine-turned wave design in its centre and a swirling pattern on the perimeter of the dial. A power reserve indication clocking the comfotable 80-hour power supply is also featured on the dial, tucked in under the chapter ring between 7 and 8 o’clock with a blue marker.
Engine room: calibre 581DPE
As richly adorned as the dial, the first view of the movement in this Marine Tourbillon Equation Marchante 5887 reveals the bridges with the hand-carved image of a historic French naval vessel, the Royal Louis, and a compass rose engraved on the barrel. Another interesting feature is the peripheral oscillating weight in platinum. The peripheral rotor was first used in the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5377 model of 2013 and more recently inside the 5367 model. With so many complications on board – 563 components – the power reserve of 80 hours is exceptional. In the name of thinness, the mainspring barrel was also whittled down by creating a groove around the barrel drum reducing the thickness by 25%.
The calibre inside this Marine Tourbillon Equation Marchante 5887 is the same calibre 581 inside the ultra-thin tourbillon models mentioned above but with the addition of a QP module and the equation of time cam. The reverse view of the tourbillon reveals another engraving referring to the date when A.L. Breguet patented his tourbillon, in the French Republican calendar format: Brevet du 7 Messidor An 9 (26 June 1801).
Although the engraving on the bridges might look old-school, Breguet has deployed its silicon technology: the escape wheel is silicon, the inverted lateral lever has silicon horns and the balance spring is also made from silicon.
The Breguet Marine Tourbillon Equation Marchante 5887 in rose gold with slate grey dial is presented on a brown alligator leather strap with a triple-folding rose gold buckle. The retail price is EUR 209,500. More details at breguet.com.