The future of watches? That sounds pretty earth-shattering, so perhaps I should say that it perhaps represents the future of some watches. So, this doesn't apply to quartz watches, neither smart watches, nor atomic clocks, but just to mechanical watches. So, yes, you're right, it's going to be of interest only to watch nerds like me who are never happier than when they are peering through a lens at a metal object a couple of inches in diameter.
So why could the Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077 represent the future of watch-making? Because it contains a technical feature that could represent a solution to an age-old problem: breakage of the winding apparatus.
Watch repairers will tell you that one of the most frequent breakages in a mechanical watch is caused by the owner overwinding the watch, or winding too vigorously. The pinions and wheels leading from the crown to the mainspring are a delicate system. Particularly if you own several watches, it's all too easy to make a mistake because they all have different winding characteristics.
So, what does all this have to to with the Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077? The watch, presented at Baselworld in March 2015 and due to reach the boutiques in December 2015, has two movements, one for the time functions (powered by a mainspring hand-wound using the crown), and one for the chronograph function, which is powered by a small blade spring that stores enough energy to run the chronograph for 20 minutes. You start the chronograph by pressing the button on the lower right-hand side of the case, and you stop it by pressing the button on the other side. Once you've read the time shown by the large centre-sweep seconds hand and the 20-minute display at top left (shown in the photo below), you reset the watch by pressing the left-hand button again. This action sets the two chronograph hands back to zero, and also loads the blade spring.
Why could this be the future of watchmaking? Because the system of loading the blade spring could be transferred to the principal power source of a mechanical watch. The watch could be wound just by pressing a pusher, perhaps 5 times a day. It would be a new alternative to the crown-winding system invented by Jean-Adrien Philippe in 1845 that has remained unchanged up until today.
I was able to try the watch in the Breguet boutique on Via Montenapoleone in Milan, and in addition to being spectacular to observe and to wear, the chronograph pushers are pleasant to use, with precise, definite clicks. The surprise comes from the reset-reload pusher, in which the force required to reload the blade spring is not noticeably different from any chronograph pusher.
The watch has lots of other interesting features. Interesting for me, at least. It's part of our line-up of must-have watches for autumn 2015. It will cost about €78,800.