Breguet has been wowing watch fanatics for centuries. Founded in 1775, the Swiss brand not only invented the world’s first self-winding watch — the 1780-built Perpétuelle — but also released the world’s very first wristwatch in 1810. But, for all its inventions and innovations, one development in particular stands out for us; the tourbillon.
In 1801, Abraham Breguet invented this mechanical marvel; mounting a watch’s escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage to negate any detrimental effects of gravity. And now, over two centuries later, the watchmaker is back with another pioneering example of the tourbillon: the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395.
Openworked, and sitting on the wrist at just 7.7 millimetres thick, this Classique Tourbillon has a domed glass box, crystal sapphire chapter ring and silicone balance spring. It’s as intricate as it looks, with minuscule movements ticking, flicking and spinning to work to create a truly singular timepiece.
Even the perceived gimmicks are powered by reason. The skeletonised escape wheel may look overly stylised, but it has actually been designed this way to reduce inertia. And, with more than 50 per cent of the tourbillon-equipped Calibre 581’s normal material construction removed, it’ll be the lightest watch you’re likely to strap on this year.
The skeletonisation isn’t the only weight-saving tactic. The gold plate and bridges have also been hollowed out, so you can spy the anatomy of the movement, and any sharp edges have been chamfered off by hand — removing excess metal and creating a 45-degree bevel.
These practical touches give Breguet’s latest tourbillon its striking good looks — but the watchmaker has also added a handful more aesthetic bells and whistles for good measure. Take the Clous de Paris hobnailing; detailed on several of the watch’s plates using a diamond-tipped guilloché procedure.
There’s also significant amounts of engraving work on show — most notably around the borders of the movement to frame its holes. For a final flourish, the dial also features applied indexes in blued gold. But, of course, the main attraction remains that ultra-thin, ultra-fine tourbillon; a feat of engineering to make Abraham Breguet proud.
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