Ladies & Gentlemen, let’s start the horology lesson. Why that? To be honest, we dare you to find another watch that exposes its entrails and all its technical elements with such elegance and refinement. The Breguet Tradition is all about a tribute traditional (which surprisingly explains its name…) and fine art of horology and to the man who is certainly one the greatest figures of watchmaking, Abraham Louis Breguet (basically, the one that invented almost everything). Here is the full review of a proper horology thesis, the Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 in Rose Gold.
Introduction to the Tradition collection by Breguet
The idea of the Breguet Tradition was born 10 years ago – in 2005 – with a unique watch, the Tradition ref. 7027, a 37mm piece that was, at that time, a very surprising iteration, mixing the traditional Breguet style (fluted case, welded lugs, hollowed hands and guilloché dial) with a reinterpretation of an antique (and fully exposed) movement. It was also the first timepiece of the manufacture to showcase the mechanisms of the movement on top of the baseplate – something that was a proper break through considering the very classical collection of watches offered by Breguet at that time.
The whole concept of the Tradition collection was to pay tribute to early watches created by Abraham Louis Breguet, during his time in exile in Switzerland during the French Revolution in the mid-1790s: the Souscription watches. Made in approximately 700 examples, these pocket watches were very popular because first of the man who manufactured them (Breguet was already very famous in the late 18th century) but mainly because of their relatively low price. A.L. Breguet found an interesting way to get its production financed by clients. “The customers would reserve the watch with a down payment (a subscription or souscription in French). His ambition was to produce a reliable, accurate, quality watch at a reasonable cost price and in sufficiently large batches to satisfy demand. The calibre he created for these watches was especially elegant, with the barrel in the centre and a pleasing symmetrical layout for the train. Generally large in diameter, the souscription watch had a large dial graduated in five-minute increments so that time could be easily read, to within one or two minutes, with a single hand. A further advantage of these watches was that they were simple enough to be repaired and maintained by any watchmaker, which was far from true of other Breguet watches.” (source: Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie).
Back in 2005, Breguet had the idea to introduce its vision of a vintage watch. However, while other brands re-issued 1950s or 1960s watches, Breguet chose to use these antique Souscription watches as a base for a modern collection of timepieces. The first of the collection, the Tradition ref. 7027, is clearly inspired by these old pocket watches, with a movement that mimics the same architecture. Later, the brand created several editions: a larger one with a 40mm case (the Ref. 7057 that we’re reviewing here), one with a GMT function or a superb tourbillon with fusée-chain. Far from being historically accurate, these editions were still close to the whole idea of the Tradition collection. In 2015, Breguet celebrates the 10th anniversary of the collection with 3 novelties (again only inspired by the concept of the Souscription watches but not historically accurate): the Ref. 7097, an automatic edition with retrograde second, the Ref. 7077, a highly interesting chronograph and the complicated and exclusive Ref. 7087, a tourbillon minute repeater.
The Breguet Tradition ref. 7057
Saying that the Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 is a horology lesson could be seen as kind of random statement, as every other skeletonized or open-worked watches – or even any timepiece that shows a bit of its entrails – could be called a ‘horology lesson‘. However, naming the watches that properly expose all the technical elements – starting from the regulating organ to the barrel and in-between, the majority of the gear train – with such a detailed view, is something rare. It’s even more uncommon when it comes to such an elegant and refined proposition and with a movement that had been conceived in this perspective – and not just a classical movement that has been opened. That’s why the Breguet sets itself apart – and you have to add into the equation the legacy of the brand and the link with the name that is stamped on the dial.
The Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 is in fact a simple watch in terms of complications. Despite the complexity of its dial (strictly speaking, we’d better talk about the front side of the movement rather than a dial), we’re in front of watch that just tells the time (just the minutes and the hours, as there’s no second hand). Breguet decided however to implement two power reserve indicators. The first one is on the dial side (the one that has a daily use) and the second one is on the movement side, and to be honest, it has no real utility, except showing the most traditional and antique way to display a power reserve. It’s useless but superb in equal measures. There might be a tiny bit of vanity from Breguet here but who cares. The rest of the watch is just about technical elements and nothing about the display. So to say, it’s unnecessary but pure horological pleasure – isn’t that the goal of haute horlogerie?
To give you live impressions and to illustrate our coming words, we invite you to first take a look at this short video.
Dial and hands
As surprising as this watch could have been at the moment of its introduction, saying that the Tradition is now fully part of the collection of watches offered by Breguet is kind of an understatement. In fact, I would even go as far to say that this watch is the pure essence of a Breguet. Of course, it isn’t like a Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Thin Automatic 5377 or a Breguet Classique Chronométrie 7727 (the winner of the GPHG 2014), both watches that are already modern in the classique range of watches – and the remarkable Type XX should be considered as something else, a sort of heritage and tribute to the other side of the Breguet family, involved in aviation.
However, after 10 years of existence and several editions created, we can say that the Tradition is clearly the best historical tribute to the brand and the most faithful to the spirit of its founder – and a very unique interpretation of the concept of vintage watches too. In fact, after a closer look, the DNA of the brand is easy to spot, as most of the unmistakable signs (a.k.a. the specific design features of the brand) are present. Naming them for an aficionado is simple and some of them are features that can be found in the Swiss production, such as the Breguet numerals or the Breguet hands. The list also includes the engine-turned dials or the secret signature (the others are linked to the case).
Describing only the dial of the Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 is quite difficult as the distinction between the movement and the non-mechanical elements is slight. Thus, we’ll only look at the small sub-dial and to the various indications that are located on the dial. The mechanical parts visible on the face belong to the movement and will thus be seen later.
So… What we have as a dial is pure Breguet (even if flooded in the rest of the mechanical parts). This dial shows the typical Breguet engine-turned finish (Abraham Louis Breguet was the first to use this technique in watchmaking). At Breguet, these dials are made from a solid plate of gold on which a guillochage is applied by skilled craftsmen, by hand (well, their hands are guiding the machine). The Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 features 3 different patterns: Clou de Paris in the center, circular graining on the hour ring and a grain d’orge (barley grain) pattern separates the different zones of the dial. On this edition (exact reference 7057BR/G9/9W6), the dial is lacquered in black. Numerals and logo are here painted in white for a good contrast. The hands are also 100% Breguet, with their eccentric “moon” tips – but here, they are not blued, as this would have been strange in this context. Despite the small size of this set (approximately half of the dial), time-reading is convenient and intuitive. The only other indication visible is a power reserve indicator located on the left side of the hour/minute dial. It is a simple straight hand running on a sort of small bridge upon the movement – that encroaches slightly on the dial.
Case / On the wrist
The edition we had for the review (reference 7057BR/G9/9W6) features a 40mm 18k rose gold case with a movement coated in anthracite and a black dial. The Tradition, in this version without additional complications, exists in various iterations. First of all, you have the choice between two sizes – 37mm for the Ref. 7027 (the first introduced 10 years ago) and the more actual 40mm Ref. 7057. Basically, the difference between these two watches comes from the thickness of the inner flange around the movement and the diameter of the hour/minute dial (larger on the 7057). For the rest, both are identical (except little details like the power reserve indicator): same movement, same style and same overall design.
The advantage of the Ref. 7057 and its 40mm case is to offer first a strong presence on the wrist and then to give a more airy view on the movement – the inner flange around the movement allows much more depth. The legibility is also improved due to the larger diameter of the dial and of course, the longer hands. This 7057 is available in 4 editions: white gold with silver dial and movement, rose gold with rose gold movement and black dial and our 2 favorites: white gold with anthracite movement and black dial and the one reviewed here, rose gold with anthracite movement and black dial.
As with the rest of the watch, the case of the Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 is typical to the brand. We found fluted case bands and the lugs with screw-pins, rather than the more usual sprung bars. The lugs are welded onto the case band as much for technical reasons of rigidity and strength as for aesthetic consistency. The case is entirely polished making this watch a precious and delicate item that has to be worn with care (gold tends to scratch easily). However, due to the contrast between the dark and cold movement and the rich tint of the gold, the Breguet Tradition ref. 7057 is never showy. It feels both technical and contemporary without being ostentatious. It’s not the most understated Breguet around but it feels like being a connoisseur watch and not a show-off timepiece.
There we go with the horology lesson. It’s surprising how this watch tends to create conversations and to attract people. Every single person that saw me wearing this beauty (and especially those without technical knowledge) come with the same question: ‘how does it works?‘ The movement is so exposed that it makes it easy to explain to people how a mechanical watch works. The entire gear train is just in front of your eyes, continuously moving. Everything starts with the centrally mounted barrel (held in place by a bridge with a large ruby, partially hidden by the dial). Then comes the center / second wheel on the left, then the third wheel underneath and the fourth wheel right in the middle (the one that runs the second and that rotates in 60 seconds). You have the basics of watchmaking: a gear train. On the right side comes the escapement wheel, the pallet fork and the balance wheel.
The entire movement is developed and build to resemble to those seen in the souscription watches. The layout is exactly the same. Furthermore, this movement is balanced and elegant, as the balance wheel gives echo to the center wheel on the left. The look is also extremely close to these antique pocket watches, with large, sharp and protruding bridges. Some details are even totally surprising like the antique anti-shock device that is mounted on the balance wheel – this pare-chute is here for the decorum and a modern Incabloc device is hidden underneath the bridge. However, this shows how faithful to the traditional watchmaking this Tradition is.
However, the rest of the movement (produced in-house of course and exclusive to this collection) is modern. It features a free-sprung balance wheel with four regulating weights that is attached to a hairspring with (of course) a Breguet overcoil. This hand-winding calibre 507 boasts 50 hour of power reserve (that can be controlled with two indicators, including a superb one on the movement side that shows the most basic but very cool way to display a power reserve).
The finish is also impressive with polished bevelled angles on the bridges, circular graining on the barrel and wheels, polished angles on the wheel spokes and black-polished screws. The main plate and the bridges feature very traditional frosted surfaces obtained by a complex and manual process. The overall movement is a real pleasure to contemplate. What surprises most is how this antique shape can look modern. It never feels like being an old watch but rather a very technical and contemporary one. All the elements are straight, sharp, architectural (showing how inventive was A.L. Breguet). Finally, as you’ve probably seen in the video and even if there are no complications, it’s a very lively timepiece that is always in action – but without disturbing you. It feels like a small tourbillon and again, like a proper horology lesson and a nice tribute to the work of A.L. Breguet.
- Amazing implementation of an antique movement in a modern watch
- Elegant, balanced, lively
- Very nice movement
- A proper one-of-a-kind watch
- The loyalty to the heritage of the brand
- The full polished finish of the case attracts scratches
- The rather long lugs
It’s hard not to fall in love with the Breguet Tradition ref. 7057. The movement itself deserves an entire book to be explained, explored and compared to the antique Breguet watches. This watch is a magnet for conversations but never feels like a showy item. Wearing this is like having a watchmaking course on the wrist and a proper tribute to the greatest watchmaker of the history. Amazingly, Breguet achieve to recreate in an extremely faithful way an antique movement – and the surprise comes from the visual modernity of this watch. Price: 26.900 Euros. More details on Breguet.com.