Magnetism is considered one of the worst enemies for a mechanical movement. Breguet have now taken the radical step of bringing two magnets right inside the watch. Many people are still not aware that Breguet have produced some of the most important inventions in watchmaking – first and foremost, the tourbillon, a feature of a huge number of high-end watches – and though the Classique Chronométrie 7727, with its magnetic pivot, had already been previewed last year, its imminent arrival in boutiques is keeping it in the news.
The balance wheel is suspended in a magnetic field created by two micro-magnets, reducing friction to virtually zero. This is made possible by the silicon, a material not affected by magnetic fields, used for the double balance-spring, pallet lever and escape wheel. Breguet's objective was the same that inspired Abraham-Louis Breguet to invent the tourbillon in 1795: to improve precision, and not to demonstrate his skill as a watchmaker. In the new Classique Chronométrie, precision is improved by a 10-Hertz balance frequency. The dial is deceptively simple, with the classic Breguet hands for hours and minutes, small seconds at 12 o'clock, and a small subdial for tenths of a second at one o'clock. It's this that provides a glimpse of the technology inside, because this tiny silicon hand is constantly whipping around, one revolution every second.
There are some other superb new products. The Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Thin Automatic 5377 has a movement just 3 millimetres thick, in a 7-millimetre case; the patented high-energy barrel provides 90 hours power reserve. For women, there is the Reine de Naples Day/Night 8998. The complication is beautifully poetic, with two dials, one for hours and minutes, and another with 24-hour indications. A lapislazzuli disc is decorated with white mother-of-pearl clouds, gold stars and a titanium moon, while the balance wheel itself represents the sun. The whole assembly rotates to express the eternal repetition of day and night.
The Breguet reflects another example of research on materials, in this case a new type of stainless steel used for the mainspring, which stores more energy and so increases power reserve to 96 hours. Case and dial are in 18-carat gold, with characteristically fine finish.
Breguet's quest for innovation continues. Just as in the past, they are writing history with their new inventions.