Without a doubt, Abraham Louis Breguet is considered the most influential watchmaker of all time. With inventions such as the overcoil hairspring and the Tourbillon amongst a myriad of others, the brand has one of the richest histories out of any manufacture in the world today.
It wasn’t always like this though. While the brand enjoyed great success in the 18th and 19th centuries, producing pocket watches for the most influential people in the world, by the 20th century, the brand was decrepit and nearly non-existent. Other than producing the occasional piece here and there, they predominantly supplied Type 20 watches to the military. The Type 20 models, in terms of design, were a departure from the elegant timepieces that had characterized the brand's earlier years.
In the mid-1970s, the Chaumet brothers, renowned for their jewelry brand, acquired Breguet and sought to revitalize the manufacture. Under the leadership of François Bodet and the relocation from Paris to Switzerland, Daniel Roth was enlisted to head the watchmaking team. The outcome of this rejuvenation effort has become part of horological history.
To this day, the style reintroduced in the ’70s and ’80s remains, most notably the engine-turned dials that feature contrasting guilloché patterns, the coin case with its fluted middle section and straight lugs, and the pomme-shaped ‘Breguet’ hands.
The Classique Chronograph Ref. 3237, which is also the watch offered here today, serves as a shining emblem of Breguet's enduring commitment to excellence in modern watchmaking. It was one of the earliest models released by the brand and in my opinion one of the most historically important. It features all of the aforementioned design cues, with a cross-hatch guilloché pattern on the solid gold dial contrasting with a vertical wave pattern within the sub-dials. This is topped off with the outer chapter ring featuring a circular brushing and blued steel Breguet hands.
It is elegantly sized at 36mm and quintessentially Breguet in its looks and proportions. Powered by the venerable Lemania Cal. 2310, it is the same used on similarly important references such as the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques Chronographe and the Patek Philippe Ref. 5070. The column wheel movement features a swan neck regulator and is beautifully finished.
This specific example has gracefully aged in the best way possible, displaying a light patina on the dial that has developed over time. Amidst the overlooked gems of the '80s and '90s, the Breguet Ref. 3237 emerges as historically significant, impeccably designed, and equipped with a top-tier movement—truly a pinnacle timepiece. It doesn’t get any better than this.