On June 26, 1801, or on “7 Messidor An IX”, to use the French Republican calendar in force at the time, Abraham-Louis Breguet secured a patent in Paris for his “watch compensating for all of the inequalities that may be found in the balance wheel and mainspring”. Breguet named his invention the “tourbillon” (or “whirlwind”) in line with the common practice at the time to use terms connected to astronomy.
Exactly 220 years later, the House of Breguet is paying homage to its founder’s invention, which opened up a new world of precision, stability, and elegance in fine horology. Breguet’s tribute comes in the form of the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Anniversaire 5365.
This timepiece – with its limited run of 35 pieces, the same number of tourbillon watches made during Abraham-Louis Breguet’s lifetime – is a heartfelt tribute to the timeless aesthetic and visionary genius of the master watchmaker. In its attempts at authenticity, Breguet’s design for this timepiece is elegant and understated, reaffirming the brand’s standards put in place by its founder.
The same can also be said of the various engine-turned motifs adorning the gold dial. As well as becoming one of Breguet’s aesthetic hallmarks, engine-turning, also known as guillochage, possesses very specific watchmaking features. By offering surfaces with finely worked irregularities, the technique allows light to be captured in a variety of ways, ranging from the utmost clarity to a more matte finish. Light captured in this way enables the different reading zones on the dial to be clearly marked.
Engine-turned surfaces are also better protected from the ravages of time than a polished finish, which are overly shiny and prone to corrosion and scratches. Finally, engine-turned surfaces offer the relief needed in order to collect the microdust that could have degraded the chronometric performance of the first pocket watches more than two centuries ago.
Throughout its history, Breguet has refined both the range of its engine-turning work and its predilection for specific motifs. Such is the case with the Clous de Paris, which takes up the entire central part of the timepiece. Handmade with a diamond chisel, it is created by interlacing engraved and crossed lines with a pitch of only 0.25 millimeters.
From a distance of 50 centimeters (the usual distance for reading a wristwatch), it gives the illusion of a matte finish. This makes it easier to read the hours and minutes, indicated by the two central blued steel off-center open-tipped hands, now known as “Breguet hands.” On the periphery, the piece is decorated with a grain d’orge (or “barley grain”) motif that is cherished by the brand. On the rear of the piece, the platinum rotor is engine-turned with a wave motif.
For this anniversary piece, Breguet has fitted its reference 5365 with a 60-second tourbillon, visible between 4 and 6 o’clock, with one of these axes showing the seconds. More eagle-eyed horologists will notice two special features. Firstly, the piece’s upper bridge is made of blued steel, which is something of an unusual finish for a tourbillon in the Classique collection. Secondly, the cartouche affixed above the tourbillon, bears the text “Brevet N o 157”, a reference to the patent number awarded to Abraham-Louis Breguet for his invention a mere 220 years ago.
This tribute is repeated on the rear of the piece, via the engraving “Anniversaire 1801–2021” on the barrel, and “Brevet N o 157 Du 7 Messidor An IX” upon the lower bridge of the tourbillon, alongside the individual number of each piece. All of these references, along with the Breguet signature on the rotor, are engraved by hand. To the right of the movement, there is a faithful reproduction of the original watercolor plate used by Abraham-Louis Breguet when filing his 1801 patent application for a tourbillon regulator.
The piece is housed in a 41-millimeter rose gold case.
World Price: CHF 158,000
- Case in rose gold with delicately fluted caseband. Sapphire-crystal caseback. Diameter 41 millimeters. Welded lugs with screw bars. Water-resistant to 3 bar (30 meters).
- Dial in 18-karat engine-turned, silvered gold, produced in four parts and following two different themes: Clous de Paris and grain d’orge. Individually numbered and signed Breguet. Hours chapter with Roman numerals. Open-tipped Breguet hands in blued steel. Special mention of “Brevet N o 157” engraving above the tourbillon.
- Extra-flat self-winding movement with a blued steel tourbillon bridge. Small seconds on the tourbillon axis. Numbered and signed Breguet. Caliber 581. 16 lignes. 33 jewels. 80-hour power reserve. Barrel on ball-bearing rollers. Reverse-side lever escapement with silicon horns. Silicon balance spring. Frequency 4 hertz. Adjusted in 6 positions.
- Leather strap with triple clasp buckle.