Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) is considered among the most talented watchmakers of all time. A perfectionist, he was as obsessed with technological innovation as he was with aesthetics. His technological innovations have been widely adopted throughout the industry; the most notable being the gong spring for repeating watches (1783) and the tourbillon (1801). Breguet’s catalogue included a broad range of designs, from some of the most complicated timepieces to some of the simplest. He had, by the time of the French Revolution, built up an impressive list of clientele which included members of the European nobility.
After having spent two years in Switzerland, during the height of the French Revolution, Breguet returned to reestablish his Parisian workshop on Quai de l’Horloge, in the spring of 1795. To attract new clientele, he invented a watch that was purposefully simple and highly reliable. Stripped-back, its movement is fully visible and reveals a perfectly symmetrical design. He offered this watch through a subscription service, and it became a spectacular commercial success.
As one of the most significant watches in Breguet’s history, the surviving examples of these subscription watches can be admired at the Breguet Museum in Paris and various other European museums. Subscription watch number 947, sold in 1802, is on display in the Louvre Museum.
Breguet used the calibre of the subscription watches to create the first Montre à Tact pocket watches, sometimes adding a little dial to them. This was the inspiration for the Tradition collection launched in 2005. The Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597 offers an open view of the movement with all its architectural shapes while displaying the hours, minutes and date. The 2020 models are presented in either 18-carat white- or pink-gold 40 mm case, with finely fluted caseband.
The hour and minute dial is eccentrically positioned at 12 o’clock and made of gold. It features an hours chapter with Roman numerals, bordered by a delicate engine-turned Clous de Paris pattern, which serves as a backdrop for blued Breguet hands.
As the name suggests, it also features a retrograde date display. Breguet was one of the first to develop this complication, and which was bestowed on some of his most famous creations. In the interests of balance, the retrograde date section runs along the periphery, between 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. A skillfully crafted, curved and multi-tiered hand indicates the date as it floats above the movement. At 10 o’clock, the patented mechanism of the screw-in corrector allows users to set the date safely.
Beneath the “floating” time and date indicators, the various components of the 505Q self-winding calibre is on display. Positioned in the centre, is the large barrel. It is topped by a symmetrically arranged gear train. As such, the centre wheel at 8 o’clock triggers the oscillating mechanism of the same size at 4 o’clock. This is equipped with the famous pare-chute. Invented by the master watchmaker, it is the ancestor of all today’s anti-shock mechanisms, and a signature element of the Tradition collection.
The calibre is also equipped with a reverse in-line lever escapement with silicon horns, as well as a Breguet balance spring also in silicon. The gold rotor visible through the transparent caseback is reminiscent of that of the Perpetuelles, or first self-winding watches.
The Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597 (Reference 7597BR/G1/9WU) has an alligator leather strap with a white or pink gold buckle. It is water-resistant to 3 bar (30 meters).