Watches: Breguet Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087 (+live pics)
By Thierry Ané on April 17, 2015
With an army of brands dealing in the Haute Horlogerie segment, the Swatch Group is able to gather a general level of watchmaking expertise second to none. To give a few reminders, keep in mind Breguet’s historical expertise with tourbillon escapements, Blancpain’s high-tech L-Evolution testing platform, Jaquet Droz’s automaton supremacy and the amount and variety of knowledge Harry Winston was able to pile up with the “Opus” series and the “Histoire de Tourbillon” saga… It seems that all this incredible knowledge serves a single purpose: make Breguet, their top-of-the-range jewel, shine by the technical dexterity and aesthetic sense it showcases in every new high-end creation!
Nowhere could this statement be truer than with the new Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087 unveiled during Baselworld last month. This sensational timepiece epitomises the company’s approach inherited from the great Abraham-Louis Breguet himself: use the very best of what modern technology can offer to push the boundaries of Fine Watchmaking while always respecting the traditional codes of this age-old art.
Aesthetically indeed, this 44 mm timepiece available in rose gold or white gold is absolutely faithful to the “Tradition” collection with the major parts of the movement on the dial side to the admiration of the viewer. It also bears the expected decorative features of a Breguet watch: a round case with welded lugs and a fluted case band as well as flame-blued open-tipped hands and a sub-dial engine-turned by hand.
Technically speaking, the watch packs so many innovations that it seems a little surreal they can all co-exist in such a small object! It is also a nightmare for the journalist that has to decide where to begin the description of this outstanding achievement… In order to tease you a little longer and also to make sure I will not forget them after the “pièce de resistance”, let me start with all that is not strictly related to the sound.
Being a tribute to the brilliant Eighteenth Century horologist, this Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087 had to rely on the emblematic compensation device he invented in 1801 to reduce the effects of gravity and increase the general chronometry of pocket watches: a tourbillon escapement. This “king of complications” proudly sits at the 6 o’clock position under a hollowed-out trapezoid-shaped bridge.
While respecting tradition this horological marvel also acknowledges the fact that modern watch enthusiasts appreciate the user-friendliness of a self-winding timepiece. The 565DR calibre is therefore automatic but in order to leave the movement perfectly visible even from the back side, it features a peripheral rotor crafted in platinum for optimal inertia. The watch is also equipped with the brand’s high-energy barrel and a silicon Breguet spring, innovations that have proved highly efficient in previous creations.
This leaves us with all the innovations pertaining to the second important information in the name of the model, namely the “Répétition Minutes” part. Of course, Breguet has a long history with minute repeaters and Abraham-Louis himself used the transmutation of the passage of time into a series of crystalline notes on quite a few timekeepers. Nothing so far, though, seemed as accomplished as what the brand’s watchmakers and engineers have achieved with the new Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087!
First of all, a chiming timepiece must be about excellent acoustic: there is no point in creating a minute repeater if the sound is so faint that no hearing aid would be sophisticated enough to allow you to hear it! Said like this it obviously sounds self-evident but I have (not) heard so many supposedly impressive minute repeaters that I can tell you it is not.
For this new model, the brand’s research team took a new and praiseworthy approach: they first synthesised about a hundred thousand sounds that they classified according to psychoacoustic criteria before selecting the two notes producing the best harmonies and sound perception. They then set themselves the task of reproducing them mechanically. This challenge gave birth to at least six important innovations I would like to briefly discuss here (obviously, the engineers that created this watch would list much more important features here but I do not want to bore you with so many technical aspects you even forget the most relevant ones).
The most surprising element of this Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087 is that the gong springs have been attached to the bezel to favour the transmission of vibrations. This bezel is in fact screwed to the case band with three pillars and can vibrate freely for an improved sound emission.
Then, unlike most minute repeaters where the hammers are parallel to the movement of the watch, those of the Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087 have been placed vertically and strike directly towards the bezel. Thanks to this technique, the mechanical vibrations are very efficiently transformed into sound waves.
In order to prevent the gongs from striking twice, most minute repeaters also use a buffer spring even though this device is known to reduce the hammer’s force. For this new watch, the Manufacture Breguet has patented a new semi-active buffer mechanism that eliminates the risk of a double strike while maximising the hammer’s energy, thus resulting in a stronger and sharper sound.
Another characteristic I would like to mention here is an improvement over the membrane used in the Classique Réveil La Musicale 7800 presented in 2013. This time, a gold membrane affixed to the sapphire crystal is used to amplify the sound created by air vibration in the acoustic cavity.
In addition to the previous four innovations, Breguet’s watchmakers introduced an improved magnetic governor in the Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon 7087. Visible from the dial side, this device reduces the noise created by the presence of magnetic fields in the vicinity of the watch when it strikes. Lastly, the transmission from the barrel for the strike to the minute repeater is by chain just like it was on the pocket watch N°160 made for the queen of France, Marie-Antoinette.
In front of such a demonstration of expertise, one can only be utterly admiring and applaud this brand’s dedication to make the Art of Haute Horlogerie progress and remain as relevant today as it was at the time of Abraham-Louis… Such a display of technological know-how has a price though and one will have to spend CHF 450,000 to hear this watch chime.
For more information please visit the Breguet web site.