Perhaps one of watchmaking's most overlooked industry titans, few brands can claim as many mechanical innovations and iconic pieces of design as Breguet can. Be it their Breguet hands, Breguet numerals, the tourbillon, the Breguet overcoil, or others; the industry has benefited tremendously from Breguet's continuous technical evolution.
For context, Breguet initially launched its Tradition collection in 2005 with the goal of showcasing the technical innovations of the movement underneath the dial. Instead of displaying these components on the caseback, Breguet decided to place them on top of the base plate, making them highly visible from the dial. The Breguet Tradition Automatique Seconde Retrograde Ref. 7097, which is what we have on offer today, was introduced to the collection in 2015. It included a retrograde seconds function that added some degree of animation to the dial alongside the rotations of the balance wheel. A real treat to wear and look at.
Beginning with the Ref. 7097’s beautiful and attractive dial, the visible plates and bridges here possess a unique grey-colored surface with a gritty appearance which is actually achieved via a technique involving meticulous hammering to create tiny little craters (called peening). Apart from that, you will also find a mainspring barrel located right in the center of the dial, flanked by two fan-shaped structures on either side. If you look closely, you will notice that the right structure extends over the balance wheel with Breguet’s pare-chute shock protection system at 3 o ’clock, while the other is positioned at 9 o 'clock for the center wheel of the going train. The time is located on the upper half of the dial and indicated via a galvanized disc which features Breguet’s world-renowned guilloche, as indicated by the Swiss Guilloché Main signature right at the bottom of the disc. This disc is further intersected by an arc-like structure on its left which is the retrograde seconds. In addition, both indications also utilize thermal-blued Breguet hands which adds a nice accent to the overall aesthetic of the dial.
Moving on to its 18-carat rose gold case, the Ref. 7097 measures 40mm × 11.8mm in dimensions and features an elegant fluted case band as well as welded screw-bar lugs. Encased within its handcrafted case is Breguet’s in-house, 38-jeweled Cal. 505 SR1, a self-winding movement that features an inverted in-lever escapement with silicon pallets and a silicon Breguet overcoil for its balance spring. While the dial of the watch gloriously displays many of the brand’s historic technical innovations, the underside of the watch is actually just as captivating. At its center, you will find an unusual yet beautiful 22-carat gold rotor, specially shaped to resemble the platinum oscillating weight on Breguet's perpétuelle self-winding à tact watches (a watch made especially for the blind). It is meticulously hand-polished to a mirror finish and pivots in a ceramic bearing, completing 360⁰ rotations. As far as power reserve goes, the Cal. 505 SR1 holds an impressive capacity of 50 hours.
In my opinion, Breguet’s Tradition collection is some of the most visually and mechanically intriguing modern pieces I’ve seen and handled. The interesting thing about these contemporary designs is the fact that they faithfully utilize and pay homage to some of Breguet’s historical technical innovations over the decades, whilst maintaining a strong spiritual connection to the Maison’s DNA through its aesthetics and mechanical ingenuity.